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The results of the 2023 Edition of the Maunakea Coin Contest are in!

The coin contest was open to all Big Island students in grades K to 12, including homeschooled children. Students were asked to make a drawing for a design that could go on a coin. The drawing had to represent Maunakea and include different aspects of this majestic mountain: its environment, astronomy, and culture.

Over 380 entries were received and divided into grades K-4, 5-8, and 9-12 categories. Six category judges selected a First, Second, and Third place winner for each category. The judges used their areas of expertise to make their selections. The judges also selected five creative designs for the "Special Mentions" award.

The six category judges were: Lacy Kaheaku Lyons (Native Hawaiian Artist), Keanu Wilson (local Artist), and Lokela (Native Hawaiian Cultural Practitioner), experts in the Hawaiian and local culture and art. Dr. Nadine Manset (a resident astronomer at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope and chair of MKAOC), Dr. Kumiko Usuda-Sato (a public outreach specialist at Subaru Telescope), and Leinani Lozi (Hawai‘i Community Outreach Specialist at Thirty Meter Telescope) are experts in astronomy.

The nine category winners' designs were sent to our Grand Judge, Dr. Julien Lozi, Sr. SCExAO Scientist at Subaru Telescope. He is an astronomer and also an expert in origami and other paper arts. The winner is Lindsey Nicole Julian, who is in 11th grade at Pahoa High and Intermediate School.

2023 Maunakea coin


The winning designs are the following:

The following comments on coin designs are a compilation of all of the judges’ submitted comments.

Grades K-4 winners

Judges’ comments for Ohomairangi Marr:
This design does a good job incorporating day and night, each taking half of the sky. The artist also uses great detail in the trees, creating a well-balanced design between the mountain and the ocean.

Judges’ comments for Sophia Hudak:
This design is creative, originally showing Maunakea. It uses four sections with various aspects, like night skies, fish hook, and nature, within the outline of the Big Island of Hawai‘i.

Judges’ comments for Ayano Noguchi:
This flowing design is simple yet unique and original. It connects the ocean wave and airflow in the night sky.


Grades 5-8 winners

Judges’ comments for Aurora Leong:
This design incorporates both Maunakea and the recent eruption at Mauna Loa. The powerful design shows excellent contrast between the two high mountains!

Judges’ comments for Aulora Mei Kaimalie Pascual:
This simple yet elegant design connects the land, the Mauna (mountain), and the night sky. Many constellations are drawn well and recognizable.

Judges’ comments for Kaimaliaokalenakai Harbottle:
Very original and unique design that incorporates mo‘olelo (story), from the ground with kalo, Maunakea, to the sky with the Moon. The design can be viewed upside down too!


Grades 9-12 winners

Judges’ comments for Lindsey Nicole Julian:
Beautiful drawing!! The woman's face is incredibly well drawn. Other elements like the bird, the wa‘a (canoe) constellation, observatories, and Lake Waiau, are also beautiful and dream-like.

Judges’ comments for Yuriy Russo:
Brilliant drawing based on the King Kalakaua Silver Dollar! King Kalakaua was an astronomy enthusiast who brought a telescope to Hawai‘i. Constellations (Maui’s Fish Hook aka Scopious and Kaheiheionakeiki aka Orion) are drawn correctly.

Judges’ comments for Ros Haleyah Mari Asuncion Ganot:
Powerful layout and solid design with bold lines. Various aspects are included in a state of harmony, such as observatories and indigenous species like Palila bird and ‘Ahinahina (silversword). The hula dancer invites us to Maunakea!


Special mentions 1

Judges’ comments for Jack Olson:
This design is very cute and incorporated from the moana (ocean) with sea critters to the Mauna (mountain) and lani (sky).

Judges’ comments for Taylie-Anne Castillo:
Loved how this design incorporated all the planets and Pluto with their names. The sky over Maunakea looks gorgeous, showing the artist's love for astronomy.

Judges’ comments for Ethan Kubo:
This is a design that pops! Black and white contrast with fun shapes and swirls make us happy.


Special mentions 2

Judges’ comments for Megan Pierpont:
The contrast is extreme in the design. Making it pop! The coral reef at the bottom is very well drawn. The use of mo‘olelo (story) is impressive; the ocean, Maunakea, and night sky are well balanced.

Judges’ comments for Keenan Lane:
Amazing design with clean lines and the state’s motto. The layout and contrast show the strong talent and eye for design that the artist has.


Overall 1st, 2nd, and 3rd winners

Grand Judge's comment for Lindsey Nicole Julian:
The overall design is so beautiful! The mix of thick and thin lines, the contrast between dark and bright areas, everything is very well executed. The subject is also quite unique. The perspective from Lake Waiau with the telescopes in the background, the moon and starry sky with Polynesian constellations reflecting in the lake, encompass all the beauty of Maunakea. The foreground is also amazing, with the resting figure (maybe Poli‘ahu?) and their lei po‘o that includes the ‘ohi‘a lehua, the mamane and the ‘ahinahina (silversword), symbols the of the different altitudes of Maunakea, and finally, the endemic bird (maybe ‘apapane?) that populates the forests on the Mauna. Amazing!

Grand Judge's comment for Yuriy Russo:
I love the inspiration of old coins from Hawai‘i, with King Kalakaua's profile at the center, the motto of Hawai‘i at the top, and the date at the bottom. The design is simple but effective. Maunakea is suggested behind King Kalakaua, who was a protector of the Hawaiian culture and identity, but was also essential in the introduction of western astronomy in Hawai‘i. The constellations represented here are iconic, both for Polynesian star lines and western constellations, with on the right Kaheiheionakeiki (the Cat's Cradle), also known as Orion, in Kekaomakali‘i (the Bailer of Makali‘i), the winter star line, and on the left Kamakaunuiamaui (Maui's Fish Hook), also known as Scorpio, in Manaiakalani (The Fish hook of Maui), the summer star line. Finally, two plants represent the identity of the Hawaiian people, the taro plant and the ‘ohi‘a lehua. Great job!

Grand Judge’s comment for Ros Haleyah Mari Asuncion Ganot:
The design is beautiful, with a great use of variations in line thicknesses. All the elements go well together: the hula dancer praising Maunakea, the endemic bird (maybe Palila?) embracing the Mauna in its wings, the diverse vegetation, and at the center, Maunakea at night with the telescopes looking at the stars. It represents everything we love aout Hawai‘i! Well done!


The awards ceremony was held at AstroDay in Hilo, on Saturday, May 6, 2023.

Go to the 2023 Announcement Page

Mauna Kea Coin Contest 2021 is sponsored by Mauna Kea Astronomy Outreach Committee (MKAOC) a.k.a. Mauna Kea Observatories Outreach Committee (MKOOC), KTA Super Stores, `Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai`i, Onizuka Space Center, & Galaxy Garden/Paleaku Gardens Peace Sanctuary.

Copyright © 2023 Mauna Kea Coin Contest Committee. All rights reserved.