Maui News

Maui’s Voyaging Canoe Launches From Lahaina

July 11, 2014, 10:16 AM HST
* Updated July 12, 9:33 AM
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By Maui Now Staff

The Mo'okiha o Pi'ilani voyaging canoe on launch day, July 11 2014. Photo courtesy Hui O Wa'a Kaulua.

The Mo’okiha o Pi’ilani voyaging canoe on launch day, July 11 2014. Photo courtesy Hui O Wa’a Kaulua.

Maui’s voyaging canoe, the Moʻokiha o Piʻilani, launched Friday, July 11 from Mala Wharf in Lahaina.

The Launch Day event began at noon and was attended by various elected officials.

The 63-foot, 11-ton, double-hulled traditional sailing canoe has been under construction for the last 17 years at Kamehameha Iki Park in West Maui, but work to build the vessel began in the mid 1990s.

Department of Land and Natural Resources officials closed Mala Wharf for the event.


Onsite security, Maui police, Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement and Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation staff were present to assist with traffic and public safety, said the DLNR.

Maui's voyaging canoe, the Mo'ohika o Pi'ilani. Photo courtesy Eric Gilliom.

Maui’s voyaging canoe, the Mo’ohika o Pi’ilani at Mala Wharf prior to launch on July 11. Photo courtesy Eric Gilliom.


Vessels that needed to be launched and retrieved could do so prior to the canoe entering the water, and after it left, said the DLNR.

The anticipated launch time was with high tide, about 4 p.m. The blessing took place before the vessel left.

The DLNR says that commercial operators at Mala ramp are in “full support of the canoe launch, and the majority shut down for the day to reduce the amount of traffic on the ramp.”

The Mo'okiha o Pi'ilani canoe is rolled up Front Street at around midnight, July 7. Photo by Charles Osborn.

The Mo’okiha o Pi’ilani canoe is rolled up Front Street at around midnight, July 7, 2014. Photo by Charlie Osborn.


The canoe launch was scheduled to coincide with the “Akua Moon” and the 3:53 p.m. highest tide of the month, according to Hui o Waʻa Kaulua.

From 2:30 to 3:30, Hawaiian practitioners from all parts of Maui, Moʻokiha o Piʻilani crew, and nearly 40 Maui canoe and paddling clubs participated in a traditional Hawaiian canoe launching ceremony to release the “living canoe” into the ocean.

In preparation for the launch, crews had rolled the canoe 1.4 miles up Front Street at around midnight on Monday, July 7.

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