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400 Pounds of Sweet Potatoes Harvested on Maui for Hōkūleʻa

Posted May 16, 2014, 09:50 AM HST Updated May 16, 2014, 10:25 AM HST
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Representing Hōkūleʻa: Timmy Gilliom (captain), Paʻanaʻakalā Babayan (apprentice navigator, going on first leg of Malama Honua to Tahiti), C.J. Elizares; Representing Hui o Waʻa Kaulua: Kimokeo Kapahulehua (President) and crew Friends of Moʻokiha o Piʻilani. Courtesy photo.

Representing Hōkūleʻa: Timmy Gilliom (captain), Paʻanaʻakalā Babayan (apprentice navigator, going on first leg of Malama Honua to Tahiti), C.J. Elizares; Representing Hui o Waʻa Kaulua: Kimokeo Kapahulehua (president) and crew Friends of Moʻokiha o Piʻilani. Courtesy photo.

By Wendy Osher

Four hundred pounds of sweet potatoes were harvested on Maui over the Mother’s Day weekend in preparation for the historic worldwide voyage of the Polynesian Voyaging Canoe Hōkūle‘a.

The sweet potatoes were planted in organic soils at Ocean Vodka’s Farm in Kula in July of 2013,  and will be taken aboard the Hōkūle‘a for food and research during the vessel’s worldwide journey that will span some 47,000 nautical miles.

“We are stewards of ocean, and of land,” said Hōkūle‘a crewmember and Ocean Vodka employee C.J. Elizares in a company press release.

“By growing the sweet potato, the Ocean Vodka family is practicing our stewardship. We are all just stewards of our time, taking care of the earth and culture in this time period … serving as models for the next generation,” said Elizares.

The type of sweet potatoes harvested were the “piko” variety, which is loosely translated as the center. “Piko is the starting point where we thrive. It is at this core spot that one is re-energized so that you can then go out into the world and offer your gifts,” said group leader Kealoha Hoe in the announcement. “The potatoes and other sources of food serve as physical and spiritual nourishment on our journey, a tie to the Gods that incorporates mana and spirit,” said Hoe.

According to the announcement, 100 pounds of sweet potato will be prepared to nourish the crew in celebration when they arrive on Maui this weekend; another 100 pounds will be used during the bon voyage ceremony in Hilo; and the remaining 200 pounds will be used as nourishment and research for the crew as they sail their first international leg from Hilo to Tahiti.

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Over several months last year, the PVC conducted Mālama Hawaiʻi, the first leg of the voyage, in which navigators paid respect to communities throughout the state.

The second leg of the worldwide voyage will begin this month as the canoes depart for their first international port. More than 300 crew members are expected to rotate and participate in the voyage, visiting 85 ports in more than 25 countries.

The vessel is scheduled to make a stop in Lahaina this weekend on its way to Hilo, where the international launch will take place.

Maui residents are invited to watch the canoe arrival, which is tentatively scheduled for 7 to 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, May 18, 2014, at Lahaina Harbor, before the vessel temporarily moors in front of the Lahaina Yacht Club.

The public is also invited bring a dish to a community pot luck hosted by Hui O Waa Kaulua at noon at Kamehameha Iki Park on Front Street, the organization announced.

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