Hōkūleʻa crew sends message to Maui following wildfire devastation

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VC: Polynesian Voyaging Society

Hōkūleʻa was in Vancouver, B.C., Canada when the devastating wildfires swept through Lahaina, Maui.  “The Leg 6 crew and all of the Polynesian Voyaging Society are heartbroken for and with our ʻohana, friends and communities of Hawaiʻi,” according to the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

The crew sent a message from the deck of Hōkūleʻa, prior to departure for Salt Spring Island.  


Bidding them farewell from Vancouver was First Nations Squamish elder Bob Baker, who spoke of living on Maui for 16 years and getting involved with Hawaiian canoe paddling and sailing through the late Pwo Navigator from Lahaina Chad Kalepa Baybayan and Hōkūleʻa veteran voyagers from Lahaina Snake Ah Hee and Archie Kalepa, both of whom survived the fires along with their families and their homes.

Baker is also involved in the Squamish canoe culture, telling crew members of “doing blessing ceremonies, blessing canoes, making canoes, taking our kids out and teaching from the canoe the history of our land here, the geographical formations that give us a leadway into our legends.”   

Connections to Hawaiʻi continued to deepen as Hōkūleʻaʻs sailed south.  In the 1800s Native Hawaiians working for the Hudsonʻs Bay Company settled the area, including William Naukana who lived on Portland Island, B.C. in 1875.  In 1904, Naukanaʻs daughter moved to nearby Salt Spring Island, where  Hōkūleʻa docked and the crew met her granddaughter Kate Roland.   Roland told the crew of other Native Hawaiian families that lived in the area – the Mahoes, Haumeas, Kahananuis and others.  She told them how her uncle loved to look at Mount Maxwell because it reminded him of the view of Diamond Head from Oʻahuʻs east side.  


Roland told crew members: “A lot of people have left the Hawaiian islands over the years, coming north, not since just the 1800s but today, theyʻre still leaving, but you canʻt lose that spirit of aloha, that spirit of ʻohana, wherever you go, it comes with you and itʻs our kuleana to spread that and keep it alive so people know, we are Hawaiian.”   

From Salt Spring Island, Hōkūleʻa will sail to Victoria, B.C. then south, back into U.S. waters, to Suquamish, Washington and on to Seattle, August 26 then Tacoma August 30th.  More details will be announced regarding arrivals and events in Seattle and Tacoma.  Sail plans are subject to change depending on weather.   

Hōkūleʻa has been sailing from Southeast Alaska since the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) held its global launch of the four-year circumnavigation of the Pacific in Juneau, Alaska on June 15.  The canoe and her crew are currently sailing through British Columbia where they continue to engage with First Nations communities.


The Moananuiākea Voyage, led by PVS, will cover an estimated 43,000 nautical miles around the Pacific, visiting 36 countries and archipelagoes, nearly 100 indigenous territories and more than 300 ports.  The goal of the voyage is to ignite a movement of 10 million “planetary navigators” by developing young leaders and engaging communities around the world to take part in navigating  earth towards a healthy, thriving future. 

The voyage itself is a global educational campaign that will amplify the vital importance of oceans and indigenous knowledge through port engagements, education and storytelling shared via a virtual “Third Canoe” called Waʻa Honua,  which translates to “a canoe for the earth” (www.waahonua.com).  PVS and its educational partners are creating stories, and lessons for all ages with the goal of inspiring people to care for and make better choices for the earth.


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