Friday, August 28, 1998

Iolani Palace
board replaces

Abigail Kawananakoa created
a furor by sitting on
the palace throne

By Craig Gima


A day after Abigail Kawananakoa had her personal furniture and paintings removed from the building where the Friends of Iolani Palace board of directors meets, the board voted to remove her as president and selected a new acting president and acting managing director.

Ronald Larsen, the board's spokesman, said most directors wanted to move past the controversy over Kawananakoa's sitting on the palace throne and the resignation of former Managing Director Jim Bartels.

"We just felt we have an obligation to the palace. We have an obligation to the Hawaiian people, an obligation to the volunteers, the docents and an obligation to all of the people of Hawaii not to be caught up in debating these two issues forever. It's gone on long enough," he said.

Larsen said a "small minority" voted against the changes.

Kawananakoa was not at the meeting because she is traveling on the mainland.

The board selected First Vice President Elia Long as acting president of the Friends of Iolani Palace, and Alice Guild as acting managing director.

Guild is Kawananakoa's cousin.

Board members met for three hours behind closed doors. They sat on metal and plastic chairs under newly installed portraits of Queen Liliuokalani and King Kalakaua brought in to replace the paintings removed Wednesday.

The board also set up ad hoc committees to search for a permanent managing director and to take over some of the duties Kawananakoa performed as the Friends' president.

Larsen said he was hopeful Kawananakoa would stay on as a director.

"She was a driving force," Larsen said. "We let her do a lot herself, and she did. She got it all done so we didn't have to worry, but now if we're going to take that factor out, then we're going to have to carry some of it ourselves."

Bartels also gave a 35-minute presentation to the board. He explained the reasons behind his resignation, whether he would consider working there again, and made suggestions on how to solve some of the problems the palace faces.

Bartels said the incident between himself and Kawananakoa over the throne incident was blown out of proportion.

"Far too much has been made about the difficulties between me and Princess Kawananakoa," he said. "We have worked together for more than 27 years. We have had disagreements in the past. We have had a serious disagreement in the recent past."

Bartels said he does not want Kawananakoa to resign.

His resignation in June was in part due to an incident in April when Kawananakoa sat on the palace throne over his objections and damaged it.

Bartels, who has been doing some consulting work since his resignation in June, said he misses working at the palace.

"It's been difficult. It's hard not to come to work," he said.

Larsen said it is too early to say whether the selection committee will consider Bartels for the managing director's job.

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