When we look at Hawai‘i today, we see a place steeped in tradition. Yet it wasn’t always that way. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1970s that Hawaiians realized they needed to do something about their fading traditions and cultural identity if they weren’t to lose some of it forever. In 1975, the Polynesian Voyaging Society built a replica of an ancient Polynesian voyaging canoe that would adopt the navigational tradition of non-instrument wayfinding. This canoe was named Hōkūle‘a -- the iconic canoe many of us are familiar with today.
Hōkūle‘a marked a significant stage of what became known as the Hawaiian Renaissance -- a time when there was renewed pride in being Hawaiian, in its language, and its traditions. In fact, once Hawaiians saw how smart their ancestors were, navigating their way through the Pacific with nothing but guides from nature to help them chart their course, it made them realize how much they were capable of.
Hōkūle‘a’s influence has only grown. From its inaugural sail to Tahiti in 1976 as part of the Bicentenniel Celebration of American Independence, to the team of young navigators (such as Kaleo Wong, Haunani Kane, and Jason Patterson) carving out their own paths on the canoe today, it changed the way many Hawaiians look at their culture forever. In many ways, Hōkūle‘a is a microcosm of life on shore, and there is a Hawaiian proverb that says “He waʻa he moku, he moku he waʻa,” meaning, “The canoe is an island, the island is a canoe.” Whether it comes down to taking care of the limited resources on board, or putting the needs of the crew over individual needs, there is a lot to be learned from life on board Hōkūle‘a that translates to the wider world. Nainoa Thompson of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, once said that “The reception to the canoe is not so much just Hōkūle‘a but the ideas about exploration, the need to unify, and that common vision and shared values are important for the Earth.”*
Today, Hawai‘i is a place that celebrates its culture and is proud to share its achievements with the outside world. Hōkūle‘a continues to play a role in that development, which is why we love to share its stories.
To find out more about Hōkūle‘a or to follow the canoe’s travels, check out http://www.hokulea.com
* Taken from an interview with Khon2 in 2014
You might think that Bruce Blankenfeld, captain on Hōkūle‘a’s Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage, and one of Hawai‘i’s five “pwo” (master) navigators, would search high and low for only the most talented sailors Hawai‘i has to offer to carry the navigational torch aboard the canoe. Yet when you chat with Bruce about what he looks for in his students, he won’t hesitate to tell you that more than anything, he looks at a person’s values. “At the heart of it, it’s the values that they live by,” he says. “If they can’t get along with others it won’t work.”
Taking his role as mentor seriously, Bruce embraces the opportunity to tap into the connections of his ancestors and the cultural and spiritual awakening that is coming from it. He believes the next generation will go even deeper into this than his generation has, and this is a driving force behind his commitment to keep mentoring. In fact, it was the cultural aspect of the Hōkūle‘a that first attracted him to the canoe in the early days. At a time when Hawai‘i was culturally lacking, Hōkūle‘a represented a revival of ancient traditions and practices. Over time, the canoe and its voyages has led to a renaissance of traditions and Hawaiian culture, to the point that today this cultural component is even featured as part of the school curriculum. “This is fairly recent,” Bruce explains. “People are realizing that being part of the voyage is very doable and not some specialized skill that leaves people out. A lot of our sailors are teachers,” he continues. “They are taking all of this back and implementing it into their curriculum. They see the value of it.”
Another change that Bruce has witnessed over time, is the increase in women aboard Hōkūle‘a. Although women have always played a role since Hōkūle‘a’s earliest days, their participation has grown, or as Bruce puts it, “It’s always been there, but it’s nice to see how it has blossomed...It is no longer outside of the scope of what they can dream about.” Yet male or female, the goal remains the same: to live the culture and share those learnings with their greater community. Bruce emphasises how important it is that Hōkūle‘a’s crew take what they’ve learnt from their travels around the Pacific and life on board the canoe and share that in their everyday lives. And that sharing of information translates not just to Hawaiians on home soil but also to the people they visit during their voyages. “Sharing is a 2 way flow,” Bruce says. “We are sharing about the canoe but they are sharing about their culture and home and their outlook on what’s important. That’s how we expand our thinking and how we get a paradigm shift as well.” That paradigm shift is already well under way, with more and more Hawaiians showing interest in Hōkūle‘a. In fact, there were over 300 people who sailed on the last voyage, and they make room for everyone.
With a renewed sense of value in Hawaiian culture and traditions, and a team of young navigators continuing the trend thanks to Bruce and his peers, what does the future look like for Bruce himself? “I’ve got another good 15 years (of sailing) in me!” he says. Chances are, Bruce Blankenfeld and Hōkūle‘a will be inextricably linked for a lot longer than that.
For Haunani Kane, Hōkūleʻa has always represented pride in the Hawaiian people, their intelligence, and their strength both in and out of the water. It was no surprise, therefore, that when Haunani met Nainoa Thompson in high school -- ( President of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and the first true Hawaiian navigator in hundreds of years) -- she was intrigued by learning even more about the iconic canoe and honored to be placed under his mentorship.
By 27 years old, Haunani was ready to take on her first sail outside of Hawai‘i at the beginning of Hōkūleʻa’s Worldwide Voyage. Nainoa encouraged her to train and become as physically strong as possible for the voyage. “Nainoa kept reminding me I had to train before my big trip. Before Hōkūle‘a, I loved to surf, but I didn’t have much interest in being buff. It’s not really my body type. I did train a lot to become physically stronger and I really benefited from it. It’s part of my lifestyle right now even though I am not sailing all the time.” But the challenges of being a woman on board Hōkūle‘a go beyond physical strength. Just the basic things that women do on a day to day basis can be a challenge. “At that level it’s easier to be a guy,” Haunani says. “For example, having long hair and having to shower in salt water showers is tough. Just finding the right shampoo and conditioner that can work with salt water showers while also being good for the environment…you have to think about these things.”
Not that any of that is holding the women on Hōkūle‘a back, and Haunani has plenty of strong and talented women to look up to such as Kaʻiulani Murphy and Pomai Bertelmann. “I was fortunate to sail with them both this past summer,” Haunani says. “Pomai was the first female captain on Hōkūle‘a. It was so amazing to be on the canoe the first time they had a female captain!” And Haunani herself is now an important member of the navigational crew, as well as on board scientist, helping to monitor the health of the oceans they pass through. She’s also working on a PhD that focuses on climate change and the Pacific islands, and she takes a lot of what she learns on the canoe to drive her research. And, as with all the other crew members we talk to, it’s clear that for Haunani, time spent on Hōkūle‘a learning about the ocean, stars, and winds also helps her learn more about herself. “I think by sailing on Hōkūle‘a, I have learnt more about my own strengths and weaknesses,” she explains. “Being part of it for so long I’ve seen how having something that is important to your culture can help you find your purpose in life. I just want to be a part of helping to create more opportunities for kids and young people to have the experiences I have had -- whether on the canoe or by helping them to find themselves through their culture.”
Like his crewmate Haunani Kane, Jason Patterson attended Kamehameha Schools. The spring semester prior to meeting Nainoa Thompson, Jason was taking the required Hawaiian culture course all freshman have to take and had the opportunity to watch the film The Navigators: Pathfinders of the Pacific. “I remember watching this film thinking how cool it would be to be able to do something like that,” Jason tells us, “and how epic those guys were with what they were able to do, traversing the ocean the way they did. Never once did I think that I would be able to meet those individuals, much less be able to have an opportunity to do what they were doing.” Yet Jason did eventually meet Nainoa while still in high school, and under his mentorship, he was ready to depart on his first sail aboard Hōkūle‘a in 2006. It was a moment in time that changed Jason forever. “It wasnʻt until we were about to push off and I was going to sail in the wake of my ancestors for the first time, did I actually feel the change,” he explains. “It was an actual physical reaction to the transition between the life before Hōkūleʻa to the life with Hōkūleʻa. It was heavy, in the most positive way.”
Every experience since that sail been related in one way or other to the canoe. Along with the invaluable life lessons Jason has learned from the canoe, he can also thank Hōkūle‘a for his current job at ʻŌiwi TV -- a native Hawaiian television company co-founded by Hōkūle‘a crew member Nāʻālehu Anthony in 2008. When ʻŌiwi TV first set out to document the Worldwide Voyage as a Hawaiian story filmed by a Hawaiian film crew from a Hawaiian perspective, Jason was there to help keep them safe on the canoe, find the best opportunities for shooting, and teach them how to be crew members.
He was a natural fit to be a documentarian himself. Learning on the job -- trial by fire, as he puts it -- Jason quickly acquired the skills necessary to document the events and emotions on board the canoe. “I owe most of my experience to Nāʻālehu Anthony,” Jason tells us. “He taught me how to frame a shot, use a camera, understand shutter speed etc. Prior to the voyage I knew nothing about cameras! It has given me a skill and a trade to use in the land world.”
More than just camera skills, Jason has learnt that life on the canoe is not so different to life on land. Essentially, you face many of the same issues. “You are going to get along with people on the canoe who put the group or hui before themselves,” he explains, “And not get along with the people who have a more individualistic perspective.” When he gets asked what he finds hardest on the long sails, it’s this aspect of navigating the more self-centered personalities that challenges him most. Jason tells us, “As Nāʻālehu Anthony once said, “You can place crew members into 2 different groups. Those who put mana (spirit) into the canoe, or those who take mana from the canoe.” You never want to be on that side. Throughout your sails it’s very easy to see who is in which category.”
For Jason, the voyage is one of self-discovery as much as it is one of literal exploration. He explains how over the course of three to four weeks at sea you see many different situations play out, and you see how people handle themselves when challenged. It’s also a great test of how you, yourself, will react to certain situations. “After your second day at sea everyone is exhausted and the energy required to put up any shield you have on is depleted,” he says. “Eventually you see the unfiltered version of someone. You hope that the version that you put out is as close to what you want to put out daily!”
When you talk to Kaleo Wong, the passion he has for his Hawaiian culture is practically palpable. From his efforts to learn the Hawaiian language, to his work with Hōkūle‘a, he puts a youthful face on the Hawaiian Renaissance. Yet for Kaleo, it is in large part because of Hōkūle‘a that he has dedicated so much of his adult life to Hawaiian traditions and culture. Intrigued by the canoe and its voyages from a young age, Kaleo would follow Hōkūle‘a’s travels on an old computer screen. This was at a time when many Hawaiians were ashamed of their heritage and identity and there had been a push to assimilate more with mainland culture. Yet when Hōkūle‘a was successful in its initial voyage to Tahiti and back, it created a paradigm shift and made people realize that they were capable of so much more. “It made Hawaiians question what else can we do,” Kaleo explains. “We went from being ashamed of being Hawaiian to being very proud of it to the point that non-Hawaiians want to be Hawaiian! That’s what Hōkūle‘a means to me -- the reclamation of identity. We can and we did start to reclaim our identity,” he continues. “We started bringing back different cultural practices, including the revitalisation of our language.”
Kaleo was one of the Hawaiians who committed to becoming fluent in Hawaiian. He is currently completing an MA in Hawaiian language at the University of Hawai‘i, and represents part of the 5% of Hawaiians who speak the language. He’s not the only one… On his last sail three out of the 12 crew members spoke Hawaiian -- testament to the changing times. But for Kaleo, the biggest challenge is not the language, but rather an internal one, of trusting in the knowledge passed down to him and that he won’t let his crew down. “At the beginning of the Worldwide Voyage, I had to accept the role that I was put into as a navigator and navigation student along with the heaviness of that position,” Kaleo tells us. “I’d been sailing a while, yet the biggest challenge was accepting that and believing I could do it. The more I have done the easier that has got... and I’m a lot more confident now as I’ve done a few legs as head navigator. Yet just today,” he continues, “Uncle Bruce told me that although he’s completed many voyages successfully, the hardest thing on any voyage is to leave the dock... To let the lines go and begin the voyage. Until you do that you will never be ready.”
Today, Kaleo is conquering life both on and off the canoe. He currently works at the Ulupō Heiau State Historic Site -- a sacred site in Oʻahu -- where he helps host groups who come down to learn the stories of the site, how their ancestors used it, and how it ties back to the idea of community. For Kaleo, this concept of community offers many parallels to the early navigators. “The power of the navigator isn’t gained by what he does on the canoe,” Kaleo says, “But by how they navigate their community.”
Kaleo is doing a good job of continuing this tradition in his own generation.
Inspiration Stories of 4 Hawaiian Artists
OluKai proudly partnered with Heath Newsstand in San Francisco to co-host the shop’s inaugural panel discussion event, titled Kumu Kahi. The evening brought four talented creative directors from Hawai‘i to the “City by the Bay” to share their stories of art, inspiration, and how their Hawaiian home has shaped their creative voices. Mark Kushimi (Contrast Magazine), Ara Feducia (Nella Media Group), Dean Song (MŌNO), and Matt Luttrell (trim Hawai‘i) spoke to a packed house with a multi-media presentation that took everyone through their personal stories of inspiration, motivation and design. Matt “Lutty” Luttrell went up first and gave the crowd his personal history, specifically how he fell head over heels for surfing and beach culture after seeing the movie “The Endless Summer”. This led Matt to not only move to Hawai‘i and devote his life to surfing, but to create a magazine devoted to surf history and the culture that surrounds it. Dean Song, the only speaker not directly connected to a specific magazine, shared his vision for design that has both function and beauty. Dean showed the crowd images of his shop on O‘ahu, as well as images and info about the small “design goods to improve your home office and lifestyle” that they carry, many of which are from Hawai‘i and Japan. Ara Feducia, creative director of NGM which publishes many titles including Flux Hawai‘i and Lei magazines, dropped some knowledge about the role of language and rhetoric in design in general and, more specifically, in her work. Walking through her portfolio, Ara showed amazing designs from her earliest works as a musician-designer knocking out music posters and flyers, to her current work leading the charge with the sophisticated and beautiful editorial designs for all of the NMG mags. Mark Kushimi, co-founder and creative director of Contrast magazine, was the only panelist whose work also includes being a full-time, professional photographer. With clients such as Monocle, Nella Media Group, and OluKai, Mark’s skills as a graphic designer are only matched by his skills as an image creator. With his belief that photos are meant “to be seen printed”, and shooting with film whenever he can, Mark’s imagery showed the room what his vision of Hawai‘i really is. It was a portfolio of images that show Hawai‘i through Mark’s eyes – times when the beaches are perfect with stunning blue water, but also when skies (and seas) are stormy and gray. Images of people exploring lesser known parts of the island, and others that show urban scenes that could easily be mistaken for New York or LA. All of them different, all of them beautiful, and all of them Hawai‘i. The standing-room-only crowd stuck around after to get some time with each of the presenters to dig a little deeper, share contact information, and to show gratitude to the artists for sharing their time and personal stories. It’s not a typically Hawaiian trait to stand in front of a crowd of people and say nice things about yourself. It can be uncomfortable and doesn’t always mesh well with humility. But Matt, Dean, Ara, and Mark came to San Francisco because they were asked, not to be honored for their skills or resumés, but to share stories of their home and the incredibly thoughtful and unbelievably beautiful work Hawai'i produces. The guests were inspired because of the speakers’ sincerity, their support for one another, and because of their declarations of love for their origins and how’s it shaped who they are, and what they do, today. Special thanks to Wendy Tsuji and Megan Sanguinetti for all of their hard work in putting on this truly inspiring event.
Shave ice has been around a long time—longer than you think. When Duke Kahanamoku took the gift of aloha and the sport of surfing around the world in 1912, shave ice was already being enjoyed by Japanese plantation workers, who brought the tradition of shaving ice to Hawai‘i’s plantations in the late nineteenth century. They enjoyed the cool, delectable treat on Sundays, the only day of the week they didn’t have to work in the fields. By the 1920s, shave ice gained popularity beyond the plantations and shave ice shops began popping up across the state. Today, it’s safe to say that while shave ice may only last five minutes in your bowl—eat it quick before it melts—enjoying shave ice is a timeless, 100 percent-Hawai‘i experience.
Waiola Shave Ice on O‘ahu, Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice on Maui, Wilson’s By The Bay on the Big Island, and Wishing Well Shave Ice on Kaua‘i have found the secret ingredients that tap into the history, cultural diversity, and local flavors of the islands, while simultaneously serving up the best shave ice, aloha, and smiles.
Wishing Well Shave Ice has deep roots in the quaint seaside hamlet of Hanalei. Seemingly protected from the ills of the world beyond Mount Wai‘ale‘ale, this iconic shave ice shop was founded by Auntie Diana in 1983. In 2015, two local professional surfers—Jesse Merle Jones and Aamion Goodwin—partnered up and bought the shave ice shop, vowing to honor Auntie Diana’s commitment to quality and her local legacy, “I have memories as a little kid getting shave ice from Auntie Diana,” Jones says. “She used to give us kids a gummy worm on top of our shave ice, something I’ll never forget.”
Jones and Goodwin have built on Auntie Diana’s favorite recipes and created a new, fruit-forward menu. They serve organic flavors from seasonal local fruit, in addition to the standard list of flavors. They’ve also added some texture to shave ice via fresh fruit. Wishing Well has become a shave ice trendsetter, offering fresh fruit toppings on top of syrup-soaked pillows of shaved ice.Next time you’re in Hanalei, check out Wishing Well Shave Ice. Order up a shave ice with syrups made from fresh, ripe, in-season fruits and you’ll be able to taste why shave ice and Hawai‘i are a perfect match. “Shave ice is more than a treat; it’s an activity that’s filled with fun and delight for people all ages,” Jones says. “We have people that have been stopping here for 30 years. They have great memories eating shave ice and watching the waterfalls in Hanalei. Wishing Well brings people together by spreading aloha, and we are very grateful to be part of it.”
Waiola Shave Ice can trace its heritage back to 1940 as a mom-and-pop market in the Mo‘ili‘ili neighborhood of Honolulu and was originally known simply as the Koide Store. At the time, numerous shave ice haunts could be found in this blue-collar Honolulu neighborhood. However, when the road was widened in the 1970s, many of the shops were forced to relocate or close. However, the owners of Koide Store, just a block away on Waiola Street, decided to try their hand at shave ice and began selling their now ultra-famous sweet dessert from an exterior window. Today, Waiola Shave Ice is one of the most famous shave ice shops on O‘ahu and has expanded to three locations across the island. It’s consistently ranked in local polls as one of the city’s favorites and has been featured in the Hawai‘i cop-show Hawai‘i 5-O, on the Travel Channel, and gets rave reviews from social media influencers from the most popular food blogs such as Eater, Serious Eats, BuzzFeed, and Bon Appétit. Even President Barak Obama visits Waiola Shave Ice when he’s on island.
At Waiola, it’s all about flavor and all of their syrups are homemade and sweetened with sugar cane. Even the ice block is homemade. When you order your frosty treat at Waiola, you’ll find that they mold their shave ice into fluffy layers to create a smooth, creamy texture. You can always go with the classic flavors, like strawberry, vanilla, or banana, or expand your palette with local-style flavors, such as lychee, lilikoi, and mango. Don’t forget to top off your Waiola shave ice with decadent lilikoi cream. You can even pair your shave ice with li hing mui products, snacks, even a souvenir T-shirt.
“Shave ice and Hawai‘i have been synonymous for as long as I can remember,” says David Yamashiro, co-owner of Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice on the Valley Isle. O‘ahu born Yamashiro and his wife Ululani—yes, the Ululani of Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice—moved to the Pacific Northwest after getting married and opened a shave ice business. The duo introduced Hawaiian-style shave ice and aloha to the region with great success. But a longing for family and the islands brought them home five years later, this time to Maui. The couple partnered with a long-time friend and opened Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice in a 65-square-foot shop on Front Street.
Fast-forward 10 years and the Yamashiro’s now have six shave ice shops across Maui. What’s the secret to their success? “Our shave ice is a true gourmet product,” David explains. “We make our own ice and 100 percent of our syrups right here. We use ultra-purified water for our ice and syrups, pure cane sugar, and real fruits. Every flavor is bold and tastes exactly as it should.”
David’s favorite flavors are lilikoi, calamansi, and coconut. He says that in addition to enjoying a smooth and delicious cold treat on a hot day, his local customers love their crack seed store, stocked full of li hing mui, wet lemon peel, li hing mango, and pickled mango. Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice has become an iconic Maui brand for good reason—extremely fine ice, bold syrups made with real fruit, and a heaping dose of “Alohatude.”
“That’s aloha with gratitude,” David says. And when you serve that up with shave ice, nothing could be better.
Wilson’s By The Bay has everything a legitimate shave ice shop in Hawai‘i should have. They carry an array of homemade syrups—18 to be exact—and local add-ons like ice cream, li hing mui seeds, azuki beans, and sweet cream are routinely added to their delectable treats. They also carry snacks, candy, ice cream, frozen yogurt, and souvenirs as well. And they also hold the ultimate barometer for the best shave ice: a near constant line of customers snake out the door.
Wilson’s By The Bay, a family owned and operated business, is located in historic downtown Hilo, just around the corner from Hilo’s famous bayside farmers’ market on the Big Island. Owner Leyson Sakai became the proprietor of Wilson’s By The Bay just two years after graduating from Hilo High. Since then, Wilson’s (as it’s known locally) has become a landmark for sweet treats and aloha vibes. “I enjoy doing it. It’s a lot of fun,” Sakai says. “When you get shave ice, the little kid in you just comes out.”
Sakai has mastered the secrets of making the homemade syrups with fresh, local fruit and keeps the crack seed store filled with treats. She also has something that keeps locals and visitors coming back year after year, affordable prices and plenty of aloha.
We hope you enjoy the tastes of our Shave Ice Collection!
The lifeguards, they see the beast. Sometimes the beast is sleeping, but the beast is there, and they know that."
Elite Functional Training Specialist
Q: Hi Rulk, thanks for joining us! Could you please share a bit about yourself, your upbringing, and your passions growing up?
"I have a Bachelors of Science degree in Kinesiology. I have always been fascinated with strength and conditioning. More specifically how our mind can push our body to exceed that which we believe we can do. I also gravitated toward biomechanics to learn how to deconstruct movement patterns and design efficient sequences to optimize performance. Many people would be fascinated with the 300lbs man that could lift 2000 lbs...where I would be more interested in the 90 year old woman that lifted a car off her trapped grandchildren. I wanted to understand how that was possible...how people are able to accomplish remarkable feats when they don’t seem possible. Full commitment and conviction to purpose. In Hawaii there is a saying...”If Can, Can. If No Can, Still Can.” Always Can. This is my life mantra and something that I preach to my own sons and everyone that I work with."
"I designed my own body weight training curriculum called Raw Functional Training or RFT®. It focuses on our foundational movement patterns and a systematic approach of sequencing these movements together to enhance core stability, joint mobility and overall functional strength and conditioning. When training waterman, first responders or competitive athletes I also integrate the sensory system to help them learn to manage their nervous and adrenal systems."
"I have been blessed to work with many elite Olympic and professional athletes in a myriad of sports and genres. I also have worked with elite military teams, SWAT, Fire, and Search and Rescue units. I have specifically enjoyed working with many waterman including Big Wave Surf Champion Makua Rothman and members of the North Shore Life Guard Association."
Q: You’ve had the opportunity to combine your training with the functionality designed into the ‘Eleu Trainer, can you tell us a bit about the trainer and how it worked for you?
"I love the glove like feel of the ‘Eleu Trainer and it’s responsiveness regardless of the terrain I am training on. I do a lot of my training outdoors and they allow my feet to feel both secure and comfortable when transitioning from ground work to running."
Q: Getting a bit more personal, what do you love most about what you do?
"I love helping people do more than they believe they can do. Exceeding limitations that we all tend to place on ourselves. Although I love working with my elite athletes and it is extremely rewarding training our military and first responders, every single person I have the pleasure of working with is a blessing and I am honored to navigate them on their journey. There are no restrictions to my RFT® training curriculum. Age, Gender, Level of Fitness, Equipment...do not matter. The only two things that are required to succeed are focus and effort...and we control both of those things. My mission is to show everyone that they are unstoppable if they can commit to purpose."
Q: Lastly, we like to end our Q&A’s by asking our friends of the brand what your 3 favorite OluKai’s are. Other than the trainer what do you like to wear?
Thank you to Da Rulk! Check out his training tactics on his Instagram @da_rulk