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The Collapse of the Monkeypod and Koa woodcraft industry in Hawaii 

Late 1960 through the 1970s


Philippine Kitsch

The Philippines flooded Waikiki in the late 1960s with knock off Monkeypod leaf trays, calabashes, and lazy-susans and designs of their own making un related to Hawaii. 


Vendors spread all of this Monkeypod Kitsch onto the sidewalks of Waikiki and turned the streets into a Bizarre. 


The Hawaiian woodcarvers were decimated.  The Public wanted Monkeypod, but did not care about the quality.  Heck a Monkeypod bowl or platter was a Monkeypod Bowl and Platter--who cares, right?  And they wanted a bargain!


The 1970s saw two of the largest operators in Waikiki, Blair and Woods of Hawaii, stop making and selling Monkeypod and Koa in the hotel shops. Woods of Hawaii went out of Business. During the 1970s, Blair still sold Monkeypod made by Hawaiian woodcarvers in their own shops at his Ward St building.  Eventually Blair moved into the Jewelry business.

The Hawaiian woodcrafters took pride in their work.  They were competitive with one another.  Competition created quality. 

If you are a collector, look for the signed pieces. 

Koa Wood

Koa is indigenous to Hawaii. The wood used in the Hawaiian woodcarving industry came primarily from the Big Island.   By the 60s, Koa was getting harder to harvest on the Big Island.  There was not enough Koa to replace the dwindled supply of Monkeypod. 

This means that if you have a vintage Koa Bowl or Leaf tray, it was 99% sure to have been made in Hawaii by Hawaiian Craftsmen.



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