Uniquely Hawaiian Gifts at Asia-Pacific Summit

The First Lady’s picks for summit gifts represent the natural beauty and culture of the President’s home state.

By: Carol Ross Joynt

President Barack Obama and other leaders wait to move to the site of the official Family Photo at the APEC summit in Honolulu, Hawaii. From left: His Royal Highness Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah; Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda of Japan; President Obama; President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia; Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada. Photograph by Pete Souza

The Hawaiian flavor of this year’s Asia-Pacific summit came not from the world leaders but from the First Lady. Typically when the participants pose for their official photograph, they wear native dress, which would be a floral shirt. But this time around, everyone was in a business suit. Maybe floral doesn’t go with discussing a dismal global economy.

On the other hand, Michelle Obama gave the participants delicate and handsome gifts that according to the White House, reflect the “natural beauty and rich culture of Hawaii. With help from Hawaiian artists, each of these gifts represents a distinct part of the aloha spirit.”



One gift was a sterling silver orchid brooch by Hawaiian artist Wayne Keeth, who uses his own orchids for the casting, “creating a one-of-a-kind piece.” The other was a pair of cufflinks crafted from Koa wood, made by woodturner Keith Maile of Oahu working with designer Kara Ross. The cufflinks were engraved with the words, “Made exclusively for Michelle Obama.”

The summit ended yesterday. Today the President will wrap up his trip to his home state with—what else?—a fundraiser.