Maui News

Kauaʻi Launches Traditional Voyaging Canoe, Nāmāhoe

September 12, 2016, 8:20 AM HST
* Updated September 12, 8:45 AM
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Kauaʻi’s first traditional voyaging canoe in possibly 600 years, made her inaugural launch into the waters of Nāwiliwili Bay over the weekend.

The historic birth of the canoe is the culmination of more than 20 years of work by Kauaʻi’s voyaging group Nā Kalai Waʻa o Kauaʻi under the leadership of John Kruse, Dennis Chun and the late Dr. Patrick Aiu, all former crewmembers of Hōkūleʻa.

With the birth of Nāmāhoe, which means Gemini, the guiding constellation from Oʻahu to Kauaʻi, there are now eight traditional voyaging canoes in Hawaiʻi.  At 72-feet long, the canoe is also the largest in the Hawaiian islands.

According to Kruse, Nāmāhoe may be the first voyaging canoe launched from Kauaʻi in close to 600 years.


“Nāmāhoe already holds so much mana from the many hands in the community that helped to build her over the last 20 years,” said Chun. “The community on Kauaʻi needs to have its own voyaging canoe to help perpetuate the culture and values of our ancestors and to provide educational opportunities for our young people.”


“I commend John, Dennis and the late Dr. Aiu for their vision and years of extraordinary dedication to building a voyaging canoe for Kauaʻi and its people,” said Nainoa Thompson, president, Polynesian Voyaging Society. “To see there are now seven voyaging canoes in Hawaiian waters since Hōkūleʻa was born 41 years ago shows that the people of Hawaiʻi share a desire to protect our past and our most cherished values,” he said.

Nā Kālai Waʻa o Kauaʻi ,The Canoe Builders of Kauaʻi, was founded in 1996 by Kruse, Chun and Aiu, who were first inspired to build a canoe for Kauaʻi back in 1995, after the construction of Makali’i on Hawaiʻi Island.

Kruse is a longtime crew member of Hōkūle‘a and also works for the County of Kaua’i. Chun is a professor and teacher of Hawaiian Studies & Culture at the University of Hawaiʻi’s Kaua’i Community College. A specialist and a physician who delivered a generation of Kaua’i’s children, Dr. Ai is a leader in the Hawaiian voyaging community. He is also the man who gave name to Nāmāhoe.


Nāmāhoe is a Polynesian designed double-hulled voyaging canoe, built with the use of modern materials (fiberglass, resin, synthetic fibers, etc). The canoe will create opportunities for Kauaʻi’s youth to experience a first-hand connection with the people who sailed to and settled the Hawaiian Islands.

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