• Polynesian wood carving stars in new gallery at Kings’ Shops

    January 18, 2024
    Waikoloa Beach Resort—On Saturday, December 2, the doors opened on Kings’ Shops newest member, Lavaka Gallery, showcasing the works of master wood-carver Fetuufoou Lavaka (Fetou) Lavaka and his family. The gallery is filled with the vibrant, nature-inspired images in koa and monkeypod, from graceful, curving whale tails, to imposing eight-foot tiki statues.

    Director Arianna Flory said that she and her family were blown away when they met Fetu at the Royal Kona Resort Lū‘au five years ago and saw his skill firsthand. Ardent art collectors, they bought one of his tiki carvings on the spot, and developed a close friendship over the ensuing years. This summer, when Lavaka’s studio in Lahaina was destroyed in the fire, both families decided to collaborate on a new space.

    From then to now, the team has worked nonstop to create the new space in Kings’ Shops in a miraculous, three-month time span.

    “It was a real labor of love. Fetu didn’t sleep for three days, said Flory. “But it’s been absolutely worth it. We’ve been getting a great response from the community. Our ultimate goal is to expand; we want to be known as the first fine art gallery dedicated solely to Polynesian carving in all the islands.”

    Lavaka, originally from Tonga, is part of a four-generation ‘ohana of artisan carvers, their father passing the knowledge on from his father, and his grandfather before. Like in Hawai‘i, carving is an important part of the Tongan culture, where originally, skilled carvers created functional pieces such as canoes, tools and weapons. Today, Lavaka’s works are more artistic and evocative.

    “Fetu is a contemporary artist continuing the tradition of the past,” said Flory. “A lot of these traditions have died out over time, and we are honored to represent them in a small way in the Gallery.”

    Previously Lavaka had a presence in The Shops at Mauna Lani, and The Shops at Wailea, Maui. Their reputation for excellence is widely known, and they are excited to return to Hawai‘i Island art community.

    “We are all very proud of the work we’ve done,” says Flory. “Fetu is such a master of his craft, and it’s a craft that is under-represented in Hawai‘i and elsewhere. We would love to be the pre-eminent dealer of Polynesian wood carving in the world, to work with museums, and to spread awareness of this beautiful native art form.”

    "Lavaka Gallery is an excellent addition to Kings' Shops," said General Manager John Alwine. "Fetu and his family are not only sharing their beautiful and authentic works of art, they are sharing a part of their culture, and their devotion to the craft. We are delighted to have them with us."

    Find Lavaka Art Gallery in Kings’ Shops ma kai end, near the former Macy’s location, open daily 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (808) 796-3033, www.LavakaArtGallery.com.

    About Kings’ Shops
    Kings’ Shops is Hawai‘i Island’s premier shopping and dining destination. Located in the heart of the Kohala Coast, the center offers a great collection of local and national retailers such as Tiffany & Co., Tommy Bahama, Tori Richard, and Michael Kors. There’s something for everyone at Kings’ Shops including live entertainment, weekly farmers markets, monthly night market events, fine art galleries and full-service restaurants like Roy’s Waikoloa Bar & Grill by Chef Roy Yamaguchi, Foster’s Kitchen, and A-Bay’s Island Grill. For more information, visit www.kingsshops.com.