Maui News

Worldwide Voyage Comes to Kaho‘olawe

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A week prior to its official homecoming on Oʻahu on Saturday, the Polynesian voyaging canoe, Hōkūleʻa made a visit to the island of Kahoʻolawe in Maui County before concluding its three year worldwide voyage.


In 2004, an observation platform was dedicated for use as a centerpiece for the education and training of novice and future wayfinders at Lae’o Kealaikahiki on Kahoʻolawe and marked a significant place for the canoes to return to in the continuing tradition of celestial navigation.

The group of more than 40 voyagers were welcomed with an oli and hula by Ka Pā Hula O Ka Lei Lehua, led by Kumu Snowbird Puananiopaoakalani Bento.

Kahoʻolawe Island Reserve Commission Executive Director Mike Nāhoʻopiʻi, said “welcoming the canoes today signifies the future opportunities for Kahoʻolawe to help perpetuate not only traditional navigation but to promote the use of traditional canoes as a means of connection, as embodied by our new kanu waʻa program.”

Led by Lopaka White, the KIRC’s kanu waʻa program (kanu: to plant; wa‘a: canoe) offers an access guide to provide supervision, safety and guidance in Reserve projects while canoe clubs contribute transportation, 500 native plants and a minimal access fee for each seasoned paddler.


“Anytime you can travel to Kahoʻolawe by canoe, regardless of what canoe it is, it moves you,” said Lopaka White, who was part of the Hikianalia crew arriving on Kahoʻolawe from the 10-hour voyage from Hawaiʻi Island, “you get a different sense of connection that builds an intimate experience with the place, the canoe, the people you are with and the place you came from because you are never cut off from those spiritual things that happen when you are immersed in the ocean, rain, wind and natural surroundings. You experience what ancient seafarers did.”


He continued, “the role reversal of being on the volunteer side exposed me to other styles of leadership. You think more about the skills displayed that make a great leader. Amongst the many lessons learned and experiences throughout the voyage from Big Island to Kahoʻolawe to Molokaʻi to Oʻahu, I can think about new ways to teach.”

The mission of the KIRC is to implement the vision for Kaho‘olawe in which the kino (body) of Kaho‘olawe is restored and nā poe o Hawai‘i (the people of Hawai‘i) care for the land. The organization is managed by a seven-member Commission and a committed staff specializing in ocean, restoration, operations, administration and operations. The mission of the Worldwide Voyage was to chart a new course toward sustainable practices for food, energy and our global environment.

Members of the halau Ka Pā Hula O Ka Lei Lehua welcome voyagers in chant, by Kelly McHugh

Members of the halau Ka Pā Hula O Ka Lei Lehua welcome voyagers in chant, by Kelly McHugh

Members of the halau Ka Pā Hula O Ka Lei Lehua welcome voyagers in chant, by Kelly McHugh

Faʻafaite and Hōkūleʻa sailing through Kealaikahiki channel making way towards the ʻAu’au channel with Kahoʻolawe in the background, by Lopaka White

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