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Voyaging Canoes Set Sail

by Rochelle delaCruz

Hōkūle`a, the canoe that took Hawaiians on their voyage from
Hawai`i to Tahiti without the use of modern instruments.
Photo by Rochelle delaCruz


Alingano Maisu, the new canoe built for master navigator Mau Piailug from Micronesia who helped the Hawaiians revive their ancient tradition of navigation
Photo by Rochelle delaCruz


Chadd Paishon (in white) navigator for the Maisu, addressing the gathering
Photo by Rochelle delaCruz


Nainoa Thompson, head of the Polynesian Voyaging Society walking
with Kahu Daniel Akaka Jr., who blessed the canoes
Photo by Rochelle delaCruz


Chief Miko Toofa Krainer from Tahiti, who is a canoe crew member
Photo by Rochelle delaCruz


From Holomoana, the navigator's heiau at Mahukona on Hawai`i island,
the view of the ocean to be crossed by the voyaging canoes
Photo by Rochelle delaCruz


A double rainbow appears over the navigator's heiau at the moment of the blessing
Photo by Rochelle delaCruz


Below, a few views of Mahukona, where the blessing took place


Photos by Rochelle delaCruz


Voyaging Canoes Set Sail

By Rochelle delaCruz

At the end of January, Polynesian voyaging canoes Hōkūle`a and Alingano Maisu set sail for an approximate 20-day journey from Kawaihae on Hawai`i island to Satawal, a small island in Micronesia, home of Mau Piailug, master navigator who helped the Hawaiians revive their ancient tradition of navigation. It was Mau who navigated the Hōkūle`a on her first voyage from Hawai`i to Tahiti in 1976. Since then, the Hōkūle`a and other canoes have traversed the Pacific Ocean without modern equipment, their crews using only the stars, wind and currents to find their way, proof that the ancient Polynesians knew how to skillfully navigate thousands of miles of ocean.

Since that first voyage to Tahiti in 1976, the Polynesian Voyaging Society was formed under the leadership of Hawaiian navigator Nainoa Thompson and canoes have traveled all over the Pacific, as far southwest as Aotearoa (New Zealand) and southeast to Rapa Nui (Easter Island.) Other islanders such as the Tahitians and the Maori have also relearned their traditional navigational skills and are building and sailing their own canoes. One of Mau Piailug’s sons Sesario and other Micronesian navigators are on the Maisu, ensuring the continuation of Mau’s skill and knowledge in their islands.

At the blessing of canoes at Māhukona twelve miles from Kawaihae, Maisu navigator Chadd Paishon reminded all that everyone in and around the Pacific is connected. “As in old days, the Pacific Ocean is our highway…and this journey is to honor the connections among us,” he said.

According to Pua Case, a kumu hula who was asked by Paishon to speak about the navigators` heiau Holomoana at Māhukona, she recounted how it was restored thirteen years ago with the help of kupuna Marie Solomon who came from a family of navigators. The heiau had fallen into disrepair and when navigators asked Kupuna Solomon for help, she was glad to share her knowledge. One of the stories she told was of a family member in training to be a navigator. For the entire day in order to learn about the movements of the sea, he lay in a canoe adrift out in the ocean that was tied to shore with a long cord. He returned to land only when his teachers pulled the canoe in.

All voyages now begin and end at Māhukona, at Holomoana whose impressive stones can best be viewed from the ocean. The canoes then pass Kaho`olawe, another training site for navigators, before heading out into the open seas.

After delivering the Alingano Maisu to Mau, the Hōkūle`a continues to Japan to meet communities with ties to Hawai`i. As the Japanese have embraced much of Hawaiian culture such as hula and `ukulele, undoubtedly the voyaging canoe will be met with great enthusiasm. At Māhukona, there was a Japanese camera crew documenting the canoe blessing, in preparation for its arrival in Japan.

The canoe crews are ten to twelve well-trained and dedicated men and women from all ethnic groups, and the voyages are made possible with the help of the community, many of whom donate supplies.

The voyaging canoes are a source of enormous pride among all from the Hawaiian Islands, as they exemplify the resilience of a people and the sustainability of their traditions.

To follow the canoes on their journey, go to the Polynesian Voyaging Society website at www.pvs.hawaii.org.


Voyaging Canoes Arrive in Satawal

Pwo ceremony conducted for 1st time in decades

The Maisu leaves Pohnpei on its way to Mau Piailug in Satawal where it arrived
in the middle of March.

Photo by Na`alehu Anthony


The crew of the Hōkūle`a are all smiles upon their arrival at
Itoman Harbor in Okinawa after 11 days from Yap

Photo from Polynesian Voyaging Society


Ku Holo Mau, Ku Holo La Komohana
Historic 2007 Voyage to Micronesia and Japan


From Polynesian Voyaging Society -- June 10, 2007  

Polynesian Voyagine Canoe Hōkūle`a sails into Yokohama Harbor at the end of the journey.

Yokohama, Japan – Hōkūle`a’s 149-day, 7,375 mile voyage through Micronesia and Japan came to a triumphant end in Yokohama Bay on Friday, June 8 th as the double-hulled canoe pulled up to the dock at about 4pm, Hawai’i time – Saturday, June 9th at 11am, Japan time. Several hundred people greeted the crews of Hōkūle`a, captained by Bruce Blankenfeld, and the escort boat Kama Hele, captained by Mike Taylor. This voyage was Hōkūle`a’s first to the western Pacific and the first time she has sailed to nations outside of Polynesia.

With a blow of the pu, first by Taylor then by one of two Hōkūle`a crewmember’s who was on the entire voyage Atwood Makanani, Hōkūle`a arrived at her final port, the same port where King David Kalakaua arrived 126 years ago. On board Hokule’a, Kahu Kaniala Akaka chanted a blessing as Hōkūle`adocked. On the dock to welcome the crews with a chant in return was Kumu Keli’i Taua. That was followed by the welcoming protocol of the Royal Order of Kamehameha. Four members were on the dock while one member, Leighton Tseu, was on Hōkūle`a. They were there to greet Hōkūle`a and honor King Kalakaua’s historic arrival in 1881, which established the King’s relationship with Emperor Meiji and lead to the opening of immigration from Japan to Hawai’i.

Also among those on hand to greet the vessels: Hawai’i expatriates, including sumotori Akebono or Chad Rowan and Yamato or George Kalima, both retired in Japan now, Japanese hula halau, and representative from about 50 Japanese media outlets.

The Royal Order of Kamehameha begins protocol when Hōkūle`a docks in Yokohama.

A ceremony was held on dock, followed by a press conference. Another welcome ceremony was held at noon yesterday, followed by a dinner reception hosted by the government of Yokohama. Most crewmembers will remain in Yokohama for the week to conduct canoe tours, give presentations at schools and make courtesy calls. On Saturday, June 16th (Friday, Hawai’i time), a two-hour final event will be held involving Governor Linda Lingle, Amy Hanaiali’ Gilliom, Pukalani Hula Hale and Mi’ilani Cooper’s halau.

Hōkūle`a is lifted out of the harbor at Yokohama by NYK Shipping Lines to be loaded and strapped down to a container on the ship and scheduled to arrive in Honolulu at the end of June. The escort boat Kama Hele will be sailed back to Hawai`i and expects to arrive in 3 weeks.

Photos by Polynesian Voyaging Society

Polynesian Voyaging Society President Nainoa Thompson commends and thanks the more than 200 crewmembers who participated in this voyage, the leadership, the hundreds of volunteers, the voyage sponsors and supporters for making this historic voyage possible, and in the end successful and with everyone safe and well. Thompson told the people of Yokohama that the success of the voyage to Japan and the kindness with which they were received at each of the 8 ports, gives encouragement that Hōkūle`a will continue to voyage beyond the Polynesian Triangle, to touch people in a way that celebrates what makes each other unique while honoring shared values and encouraging the caring of our environment and one another in a never-ending endeavor to foster peace and harmony.

For reports and photos on the voyage from crewmembers please go to our weblog at http://pvshawaii.squarespace.com.

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