Constructed under the direction of Governor John A. Burns, the groundbreaking ceremony was held on November 11, 1965 with the official dedication held on March 15, 1969. Designed by the architectural firm of John Carl Warnecke & Associates of San Francisco in partnership with the local firm of Belt, Lemmon & Lo, the building was purposely designed to be unique amongst all the other 49 state capitol buildings and meant to reflect the open and welcoming spirit of the Hawaiian people.Entry into the building is open at both ends with the rotunda opening up to the sky.
The House and the Senate Chambers are conical in shape to replicate a volcano to represent the birth of the Hawaiian islands, while the reflecting pool represents the Pacific Ocean surrounding our island state. The 40 columns rising around the building replicate palm trees which are found in abundance throughout our islands.
Standing sentry in the front on the building is Father Damien de Veuster, also know as the “Martyr of Moloka‘i”. Known for his work on the island of Moloka‘i tending to the physical and spiritual needs of those who contracted leprosy, or Hansen’s Disease. After 16 years of dedicated service, Father Damien contracted the disease himself and passed away on April 15, 1889. On October 11, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI canonized Father Damien, elevating him to the status of sainthood, making him the first Saint for Hawai‘i.His statue, designed by Marisol Esobar, faces away from the Capitol building facing toward the direction of Moloka‘i still looking out for those who live there. A twin of this statue can be found in the United State Capitol in Washington D.C. in their Hall of Columns.
The mosaic named the “Aquarius” was designed by local artist, Tadashi Sato of Maui. The original was installed the year the Capitol opened in 1969. This 36-foot circular mosaic is made of 600,000 pieces of Italian tile, to replicate the different colors found in the Pacific Ocean when the sun shines off its surface.
On the grounds between ‘Iolani Palace and the Capitol stands a statue of Hawai‘i’s last reigning monarch, Queen Lili‘uokalani. The statue, named “The Spirit of Lili‘uokalani” was created by sculptor Marianna Pineda and dedicated on April 10, 1982. In her hand she holds three documents; the song “Aloha ‘Oe” which the queen composed, the Constitution of the kingdom and “Kumulipo”, the Hawaiian chant of creation. Since its dedication, the Queen’s statue faces the Capitol building where some say she continues to keep a close eye on those who work there.
The Senate Chamber houses our 25 State Senators, led by Senate President Donna Mercado Kim. The chamber floor is covered in blue carpet to represent the ocean with it’s white chandelier, made of 620 nautilus shells, representing the moon. The 40 foot tapestry prominently hung in the front of the room was created by local artist, Ruthadell Anderson, and depicts the ocean, canoes and cloud patterns.
Across the courtyard you will find the House of Representatives Chamber which houses our 51 State Representatives led by Speaker Joe Souki. Covering the floor of the House you have earth tone colors to represent the land with a gold plated chandelier hanging in the center to represent the sun. The tapestry fronting the House chamber is also designed by Ruthadell Anderson and depicts two columns rising from the floor to the ceiling, depicting palm trees growing out of the earth. In both Chambers you will see the public viewing gallery located above and behind the House and Senate members. The galleries were specifically designed like this so the public would be able to look over the shoulders of those serving and see that they are indeed representing the public. Our Capitol building is one of the few left that is completely open to the public while the Legislature is in session on the floor.
Located on the 5th floor of the Capitol are the offices of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor.
The responsibility of the Lieutenant Governor in Hawaii is to head up any special task forces or special projects designated to them by the Governor, to serve as a community liaison and Hawaii’s Secretary of State. They also step in as acting Governor if the Governor is out of State or unable to perform their day to day duties of the office for any reason.
The Governor serves as the commander-in-chief to the State’s armed forces and oversees all state departments. He is also responsible for nominating people to head those departments. Both the offices of the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor are limited to two 4 year terms in office.
Within the Executive Office, you will find the Governor’s Ceremonial Room, which serves as his public office. If you look to the right and left of the room you will also notice the portraits of the past Governors for the State of Hawaii are displayed.
The Ceremonial room is used for a variety of public events, including public bill signings, which are bills that the Governor is signing into law, proclamation ceremonies, greeting foreign dignitaries and holding press conferences.
Mahalo for visiting us at the Hawaii State Capitol building and we hope to see you again soon!
Hawaii State Capitol Tour
Dedicated March 15, 1969
Designed by the
architectural firm of John
Carl Warnecke and
Associates of San
Francisco along with the
local firm of Belt, Lemmon
& Lo (Architects Hawai‘i)
Saint Joseph Damien de Veuster
On October 11, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI canonized Father Damien de Veuster in a
ceremony at the Vatican elevating him to sainthood.
Artist – Tadashi Sato of Maui
• Original installed in 1969
• Renovated in 1988
• Completely reconstructed in
In 1877 Lydia Kamaka‘eha Paki was proclaimed heir to the throne by
her brother, King David Kalakaua, with the new name of Lili‘uokalani.
Hawai‘i State Senate
• Senate President Donna
• 25 Senators
• Elected every 4 years
House of Representatives
• Speaker Joseph M. Souki
• 51 State Representatives
• Elected every 2 years
Houses the Offices of the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor
Shan S. Tsutsui
Heads special task forces or projects delegated by the Governor.
Serves as a community liaison and Hawai‘i’s Secretary of State.
Serves as acting Governor if the Governor is out of state or vacates the seat for any reason.
Governor Neil Abercrombie
Is the Commander-in-Chief of the state’s armed forces
Oversees all State Departments and nominates people to
head those departments
Both offices are limited to two 4 year terms
Serves as the
public office for