Hey, put your mouth where the money is
|Reader poll: What would you like to see on the state coin?|
By Loren Moreno
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Loren Moreno
Matthew Coe, a 9-year-old from Wai'alae School, thinks Hawai'i's unofficial state fish, the humuhumunukunukuapua'a, should be put on the back of the state's commemorative quarter.
"It just kind of says Hawai'i," said Matthew.
Kris Ikegami of Makiki said she did not want "anything cheesy" on Hawai'i's quarter. For Ikegami, hula girls, flowers and lei are out of the question. Too cliche, she said.
"I'd like to see an endangered species or something that raises awareness of a critical issue," said Ikegami, 31. She suggested using the endangered state bird, the nene goose.
For the next year, the fish, the nene and many other popular state symbols will be vying for the spot on the back of Hawai'i's commemorative quarter scheduled to be released in fall 2008. The eventual design of the quarter will depend heavily on input from Hawai'i's public, said Gov. Linda Lingle in a news conference yesterday.
"People in our state will have an opportunity to have input," said Lingle. But "I think this will be one of the times where our diversity creates a great challenge for us," she said. Only one design can be chosen and would need to please a broad range of people, she said.
Hawai'i's quarter will be the last of the 50-state series to be released. Quarters are issued in the order in which the states ratified the U.S. Constitution and joined the union. The first commemorative quarter — Delaware — was released in 1999.
The Hawai'i Commemorative Quarter Advisory Commission was established yesterday by the governor to select, develop and recommend designs that symbolize Hawai'i's history and heritage. The commission comprises about 40 individuals in the business, government, education, culture and art fields. The panel also includes members of the Hawai'i Numismatic Association.
The governor will have the task of selecting one design to be etched into millions of quarters to be put into circulation nationwide. But not without first fielding recommendations from the public.
A link on the governor's Web site will be established where people can submit a written description of what they would like on the coin. The commission will review the submissions and choose three to five of them to be submitted to the U.S. Mint no later than July.
Artists at the U.S. Mint will create the coin designs based on the written descriptions. The commemorative quarters have an image of George Washington on the front; the state design replaces the eagle on the back.
Steven Lee, 49, of Honolulu, said selecting a quarter design may not be so easy. "There are a lot of cultural and political issues to consider," said Lee.
He suggested going back to Hawai'i's "indigenous past" to develop the design but said it would also have to be a design that people from Hawai'i's wide range of ethnicities will accept.
Ola Kakalia, of Nanakuli, said it isn't necessary to be "overly sensitive" to Hawai'i's history. Something simple is the best way to go, Kakalia said.
"It has to be something that symbolizes Hawai'i that most people will recognize," she said.
She thought the taro plant would be a good idea but wasn't sure if people unfamiliar with Hawai'i's culture would know what it was.
Ten-year-old Erin Bamer of Kahala said a hibiscus, the state flower, is the best Hawai'i symbol since "every island has (a) different color one." That is an idea definitely acceptable by U.S. Mint standards.
The U.S. Mint suggests using state landmarks, landscapes, historical buildings, state flora, state icons or the outline of the state. Other states have chosen images ranging from the Statue of Liberty, to a buffalo, to Abraham Lincoln.
Kris Hara, 45, suggested an image of King Kamehameha. "He is a strong figure in Hawai'i history," said Hara, of Moanalua. "We learned about him in fourth grade and anyone from Hawai'i understands his importance."
Other suggestions included Olympic gold medalist Duke Kahanamoku, 'Iolani Palace, Diamond Head and a beach sunset scene.
Thirty-six state quarters have been released so far. So Hawai'i's quarter commission chairman, Jonathan Johnson, said the group has learned what works and what does not from other states that have gone through the process.
For instance, Hawai'i will not accept drawings of the quarter design. Instead people will submit written descriptions. There will also be no winners or prizes, said Johnson.
Lingle said she will choose a design that not only symbolizes the state but also "shares with our fellow Americans Hawai'i's proud history, unique geography and rich diversity and host culture."
"I would predict this will be the most collected of the 50 coins," said Lingle.
"It's the one that completes the set."
Reach Loren Moreno at email@example.com.