We looked to Hawaiʻi's vibrant culture of artisanal craftsmanship when designing the hand-braided leather straps on the Kāhiko—which simulate traditional rope braiding.
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From beach to land and back again, the classic ‘Ohana is made to let kids roam, tumble, explore. Weather-resistant and floats.
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So light, so airy and so brightly colored, our slip-on Pehuea Maka Girls is made to keep up with her adventurous spirit.
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Hikianalia is the companion sailing canoe of the iconic Hōkūle‘a and summons the wayfaring wisdom passed down by its Hawaiian ancestors to navigate the sea.
Thousands gathered in Aquatic Park, San Francisco, on Sunday September 16, 2018 to welcome the crew of Hikianalia back to land after a 23-day 2,800 nautical mile voyage. Although the Hikianalia is equipped with modern day navigation tools, the crew used traditional celestial navigation techniques to guide them to California – reading the stars, ocean currents and sea life bringing them north. Captain Lehua Kamalu lead the 13-person crew through rough seas on the canoe’s voyage north during her maiden voyage as captain.
“Sailing the North Pacific provided our crew with a large amount of growth. We had to learn about that ocean, and in the process, learn it’s value,” said Lehua Kamalu, captain and navigator of Hikianalia. “When we arrived in Aquatic Bay today, it was amazing to see so many Pacific Islanders here in San Francisco. To all those who may miss their island home, we hope the work and sailing we do not only makes them proud but also connected to their land and culture,” she added.
OluKai is a proud partner of Polynesian Voyaging Society.
We are honored to create sandals in the image of the proud voyaging canoes, Hikianalia and Hōkūleʻa.
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
On August 16, 2017, voyaging canoes Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia will depart the Marine Education Training Center (METC) at Sand Island to begin the Mahalo, Hawai’i Sail. The first stop will be at Honolua Bay, Maui, where Hōkūleʻa first launched for her maiden voyage in 1976 and where she will now begin to mahalo and mālama Hawai’i with a planting of 4,000 koa seedlings as part of a series of events in West Maui. After the Honolua Bay visit, the canoes will continue to approximately 40 additional ports and connect with nearly 80 communities throughout the Hawaiian Islands.
The Mahalo, Hawai’i Sail will give Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) an opportunity to thank Hawaiʻi’s people, bring Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia home to all of Hawaiʻi, share lessons learned from the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage and deepen the organization’s connection and understanding of the important work being done here in the islands to care for the earth. During the port visits, PVS will engage with schools and organizations through outreach events, service projects, crew presentations and canoe tours.
“Now that we have returned from our three-year voyage around the world, we are looking forward to reconnecting with and thanking the people of Hawai’i,” said Nainoa Thompson, president of PVS. “It’s also time now to discover and shine the light on what people and organizations are doing to turn inspiration into action for the betterment of our island home and the earth. This first engagement planned at Honolua Bay and Waokele ʻo Honolua by the West Maui community is an example of what we are hoping to support during this sail,” he added.
Honolua Bay was chosen as the first stop on the Mahalo, Hawai’i Sail because it was the location where the Hōkūleʻa’s maiden voyage to Tahiti was launched in 1976. In partnership with the Maui Land and Pineapple Company, Inc. through the conservation department of the Pu’u Kukui Watershed Preserve, State of Hawaiʻi DLNR, The Nature Conservancy of Hawaiʻi and Kamehameha Schools Maui, Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia crew members will be engaging with schools and the community in West Maui where they are scheduled to conduct presentations and canoe tours (see detailed schedule below). On Saturday, August 19, crew members will join the community and participate in a project to plant 4,000 koa trees and thousands of other native plants in the Pu’u Kukui Watershed Preserve ma kai conservation area. At one time, koa trees were used to make voyaging canoes, but today there are few of these native trees remaining which are large enough to do so.
Honolua Bay Engagement Schedule:
*All dates and times schedule to change
About Pu’u Kukui Watershed Preserve:
Pu’u Kukui Watershed Preserve is the largest private nature preserve in the state of Hawaiʻi. Extending across more than 9,000 acres from ma uka to ma kai of Mauna Kahālāwai on Mauiʻs West side, it is home to some of the rarest endangered flora and fauna in the islands. This pristine area is a vital water source for Mauiʻs community and one of the wettest spots on earth. Most recently, under new management, the ancestral wisdom of Hawaiian elders has been laid as the foundation for conservation efforts in the preserve; providing a culturally sensitive and informed approach to managing the thriving native ecosystem of Puʻu Kukui. Conservation endeavors include non-native invasive species control, weed control, monitoring, research and most importantly protecting rare species.
Article courtesy of www.hokulea.com and www.puukukui.org
Homecoming: Hōkūle‘a, Hadar and Hina.
We talk about origins, inspiration and connecting with the Honolulu-based artist.
Interview by Daniel Ikaika Ito
There has always been a connection between Honolulu’s Kamea Hadar and Mālama Honua, the worldwide voyage of Hōkūle‘a. He painted the hatch covers of Hōkūle‘a, the cabin of Hikianali‘a and a mural of Papa Mau Piailug at Pow! Wow! Hawai‘i! 2014. In May, Kamea smashed the largest mural to date in his career: a 130-feet tall depiction of the Hawaiian goddess, Hina, on the 14-story Hālawa View Apartments. This piece is dedicated to the homecoming of Hōkūle‘a, which will end its four-year voyage of circumnavigating the Earth using traditional Polynesian navigation techniques in June. We caught up with Kamea while he was preparing for Pow! Wow! Israel and he was on a homecoming himself.
Daniel Ikaika Ito: Where are you right now?
Kamea Hadar: I’m a little town outside of Jerusalem where I was born and I grew up–technically I grew up mostly in Hawai‘i–but I grew up here till I was 4. I am currently preparing for Pow! Wow! Israel and I’m organizing all the logistics before the crew comes in.
How monumental was your last commissioned piece in the grand scheme of your career?
I completed my biggest mural to date: it’s a 14-story behemoth! It’s about a 130-feet tall, a depiction of the Hawaiian goddess, Hina. It’s inspired by Hōkūle‘a and the worldwide voyage, Mālama Honua and their return home from circumnavigating the globe.
What was the inspiration for this massive project?
This project, like many of my projects, had many wow-this-is-meant-to-be-moments. For example, I was approached by Pacific Development Group to see if I could paint their building. They took me to the wall on the initial site visit and up to the roof. I was looking out from this really, really tall building over all of Pearl Harbor and I started thinking of the Arizona Memorial, all of the sailors, Mālama Honua and Hōkūle‘a. I could really feel the sense of place. So I asked them, “what if I paint the whole building?” And they said, “yeah!” Then I said that I painted a series of projects for Hōkūle‘a when they left and when they come back [to Hawai‘i] it will be this amazingly perfect timing so it just kind of worked out that way. Then when I was thinking about who would be a good person to model and use as reference I was scouring the Internet, asking around and making phone calls. All of these different routes kept taking me back to the same person, Mahina Garcia, who at least in my opinion, looks like a real-life Hawaiian goddess. Her skin. Her face. Her build. She just has that kind of presence when you meet her. And you, Ito, hooked me up and connected me with her like the many connections you’ve made. I mean you’re the one that connected me with Jasper [Wong] originally when we started this whole thing.
Yes! I got that recorded and I’ve been waiting years for this. Nah, I’m just joking.
(Laughs) No, no, man. I specifically remember that I was in my truck, parked outside of [our friend’s] house on Young Street. And, I remember you specifically telling me while I was parking. And you’re like, “yeah, Jasper is doing this thing with artists and you’re an artist too and he wants to blackout all of the pieces and it’s super weird.” Then you’re like, “yeah the only thing is that he is having a problem finding a house [for the artists] to stay in and he’s thinking of a big beach house on the North Shore or something. Then I was like, “dude, my family just built this big house and that is what we wanted it for.” Then you were like, “I’ll connect you with Jasper.” Then Jasper literally called me five minutes later and was like, “you remember me from high school?”
(Laughs) And the rest is street art history. I just want to connect cool people with cool people.
I like to do that as well. I totally appreciate when other people are the same way because you can call them and they’ll be like, “this will be awesome.” You can tell when those kinds of connections are one plus one equals three. If you connect these two people they will be more than just two people: it’s like one plus one equals 100. Or, one plus one equals infinity, it just depends on who the two people are and what the connection is.
Totally! Who are some of the people you connected with to make this project happen?
Whenever it comes time to credit everyone that has to do with a mural or any project the list can go on and on, but it always comes back to the amazing support that my family has had for me since I was a little kid. The list goes on forever, but I guess the short list for this mural is Pacific Development Group, who owns the building, supported me and initially reached out to me. Polynesian Voyaging Society, Hōkūle‘a, Bruce Blankenfeld, Nainoa Thompson, Sonya, Heidi and basically everyone involved with PVS. They are such positive people and they’re just trying to do what I’m doing: we just want to leave the world a more beautiful place than how we found it. It’s really nice to work with like-minded people. Austin Kino is a good friend of mine and he’s always very helpful. You, of course, and then, OluKai, who, since I first met them has always been incredibly supportive with all my projects, their ears and hearts have always been open. They just listen, soak it in and help and support. I couldn’t ask for a better partner in all that I do than OluKai. City Mill helped recently with supplies for Pow! Wow! and for this mural in particular. Mahina donated her beautiful face. Mason Rose helped me take the reference photos of her. Kūha‘o Zane helped advise on the technical side with the kind of lei po‘o that he would make if he was dancing hula that had to do with the goddess, Hina. Prime always advises me on all my projects and imagery. He took me into the lo‘i, we worked there, kind of thought about it and advised me on all the symbolism. Cory Taum was my assistant on the whole project and he was not any less scared than me going up. And, I went up because I had to because I put my name on it and I had to overcome my fears and he did it just to help me fulfill my dream. I’m just grateful that he did what he did.
Why was important to paint the Hawaiian goddess Hina and how does it relate to the homecoming of Hōkūle‘a?
In Hawaiian culture, a lot of the legends are based on an oral history so there are always many interpretations and versions of all the different gods and stories. In a nutshell, Hina was said to be the goddess of the moon and stars, obviously the moon and stars are incredibly important to the navigators on Hōkūle‘a. Hina was said to help guide sailors on their voyages around the ocean so I felt that she was a very fitting image, holding up the moon and guiding Hōkūle‘a home.
*Follow more of Kamea Hadar on instagram @kameahadar
February 26, 2017
We’ve been sailing for nearly three years on the international portion of the worldwide voyage. It’s hard to believe that there are only a handful of legs left before our canoe returns home. The Malama Houna movement has become something that has touched some of the farthest shores that some of us could not have even imagined when we set out of Hilo on the Big Island in May of 2014. Even in the face all of the metrics that we collect about the “movement” that this voyage has helped to bring to life I would argue that some of the biggest growth and impact has actually occurred right here, on the deck of a sailing canoe, as she has traversed all these miles across the face of the planet. This navigation team for this leg is an example of that growth and growing up that we have seen. All of them were on the fist leg to Tahiti in 2014 as apprentice navigators, and now, together, they are sailing this canoe without their teacher looking for the most isolated Island on the planet. I don't think that this was the way it was planned at which they were to step into the lead navigation role but it rarely every goes the way as planned when leadership development is in full swing.
If you listen to the early interviews we did with these individuals back in 2013 and early 2014 you wouldn't even recognize them as the same people who have grown up to be on this voyage. The people we have on board today are poised, confident, and unabashed by the complexity and difficulty of the task they have chosen to take up. And in the opinion of someone who has been watching this process intently for a few years now, they are finally ready to learn. Yes, they have all had to learn tremendous amount “stuff” to get to the deck of the canoe. But now that they are here they have all the pieces of this “stuff” to put it into practice and internalize the process of way finding unto themselves.
All that was left was to turn the deck of the canoe in to a classroom with the next set of lessons being the unending horizon that surrounds us. And over the course of the last 17 days and almost 2000 miles they were tested. The simple act of staying awake becomes a monumental test when having to stay awake and track direction and speed and distance. The patience part about this test was probably the one of the hardest. With nerves of steel they searched the horizon for three days, looking for the reef and then Rapa Nui, waiting for something to reveal itself.
And so the all elusive and isolated Rapa Nui revealed itself yesterday at about 4 pm. When we checked the range we say that we were 43 miles out when they finally sighted the island. Some hugged, some just sat in a state of almost disbelief, while one other capped off 42 years of sailing this canoe, finally closing the triangle. All elusive indeed. And that became the last lesson of this experience. I would argue that without the Birds and swell and clouds as clues we would have never found this place. Trusting your naʻau as it turns out is every bit as important as the math and observation and science behind all of this.
This will be my last “regular” update for this voyage. There are a couple more blogs that I want to get out while in Rapa Nui but this is the last one from the deck of this canoe for a while. Before I go I would like everyone who reads this to congratulate the crew who just stared impossible in the face and conquered it. But also a special acknowledgement for those who took up the task of the navigation; Lehua Kamalu, Haunani Kane, Jason Patterson and Noe Kamalu- I can’t wait to see what they do next.
From the deck of the Mama canoe, Hōkūleʻa,
Me ka haʻahaʻa
Naʻalehu for the leg 28 crew
February 12, 2017
Aloha nui kakou,
We are on our third day of the 28th leg of this worldwide voyage. Most of us have sailed multiple legs of this voyage and have thousands of miles of sailing under our belts. What is so great about this crew though, is that they many of us have been sailing together for decades. In the case of our captain Archie Kalepa, he has been sailing on board Hōkūle‘a for about a quarter century and many of those early sails he was a crew member side by side with the likes of Max and Keahi who are also on this leg. For myself, I came into the organization at the same time with fellow watch captain Russell and I have been privileged to sail with at least half this crew before. As we recount different destinations and as the stories come out about previous voyages, its hard to believe that this canoe has travelled so many miles and witnessed so many events. I think at the root of that is the learning that has taken place on board that has shaped the lives of so many individuals. If one counts the education efforts of the crews over the last 40 years and dozen or so voyages, literally hundreds of thousands of people have been on board to experience, in some way, the mana of this canoe.
But for us on board, the experience is totally different for what will probably be almost three weeks of sailing. Different because at this point in the voyage we all have large amounts of sea time and expertise in sailing this vessel and yet, the more we think we know, the more we realize just how much we have to learn. It's a pretty interesting paradigm to be in as we move forward in life, more interesting because we get to be together in these “fairly isolated from the rest of the world experiences” where we have to work together as a team or the destination really cannot be reached. And so all of us bring our best selves to get to the destination. The physical destination is an island a little smaller than Kaho’olawe and about as isolated as you can get. But the metaphorical destination… I think that's a different story. I really believe that we are all here to learn more about this thing called sailing and in that learn more about ourselves. You cannot help but be introspective here. And that state of being is only broken by the occasional need to do something immediate, like stad the watch or sheet a sail. And so over the course of that we have to teach as well. There are those who haven’t spent as much time trimming sails or steering in these types of conditions. So the ability come to this with a humble heart to balance out the teaching and learning requires us to be true to what we know and more to the point what we don't know, and in that we will maybe find some true knowledge. For me, I'm just really stoked to be here, on the deck of this canoe, with this group that will be teaching and learning as we go. Its no wonder Hawaiians use a’o for teaching and learning, the two must go hand in hand if we are to truly attempt either.
This is a big test for me. For me the sea has always brought some of the greatest tests of my life; my strength, my courage and my leadership. But this test is different. While I have been a crew member in many capacities on board Hōkūle’a, this is the first time that I have been asked to be in charge of it all. From the sacred vessel, Hōkūle’a to the sacred 13 souls on board I am humbled and honestly a little afraid of this new responsibility.
And so our journey started with pulling up anchor at Santa Cruz Island, the first of many trials that will become this 1900-mile journey. We have had three anchors down for the better part of a week and there are ships moored all over this bay that we are in. The first order of business was to pull the anchors in the correct sequence so that we don't get too close to the other vessels and then hook up a tow with the Gershon II safely an without incident. And so our crew worked together to get through this seemingly small task, build some trust, and start our journey. I have a feeling it went well. They didn't say anything but they did look at me with a big smile and a head nod as if to say good job captain! Uncle Billy came up to me later and said our departure was textbook.
And so since those anchors came up we have been tested. These lessons have come in bits and pieces, like a puzzle; the elusive wind, the swell direction, clouds, and how they hide our precious stars. The patch of rain last night taught us a lot about ourselves as the test was having to use our other senses as our eyes were muted by the dark sky, not even the moon could get through. This was a little test for the navigation team. By 6:30am we entered into a dark black hole of a cloud that wouldn't be something for a Pwo navigator to worry about but this new navigation team is testing themselves and I’m a captain who is new to this position. Lucky for us we have a seasoned crew with many deep sea crossings and who are eager to support the navigation team. Our navigators held the line and when we popped out of the cloud, having nothing to rely on but swell, the navigation team was right on point. The lesson, be patient, trust your decisions trust your crew. These are lessons in the purest form!
This is because we have had great teachers; Nainoa, Bruce, Kalepa, Snake, Terry, Clay, all of them come to my mind. And we would not be right here, right now, without them.
We'll be standing by 72,
Captain Archie Kalepa
As the Hōkūle'a continues its worldwide journey, we caught up with Archie Kalepa after he rejoined the ship's crew to sail from Washington DC to New York City.
OluKai: We covered your voyage on Hōkūle'a from Mauritius to South Africa. When did you jump back on Hōkūle'a?
Archie Kalepa: I jumped back on this leg from DC to New York.
OK: How was it? Was the boat there when you got there or did you sail in on the Potomac?
AK: Sailed out of the Potomac because the boat was already there in DC when I got there. And then sailed to here, New York.
OK: So how were the conditions?
AK: Oh for us Hawaiians we don’t have a lot of fog, so that was a first-time experience but I think what was really really awesome for me, is when we were in DC it was awesome to see people who haven’t been home in Hawaii for a very very long time who live in DC they all came down to the canoe and brought guitars and ukuleles and sang and made music for us. That was a pretty awesome experience.
OK: That’s not hard to imagine at all. How many Hawaiians were there?
AK: You know every day we were doing canoe visits and there were 300 people a day coming down to see the canoe and out of that 300 at least 50 were Hawaiians.
OK: How long were you in DC?
AK: We were in DC for a week and a half and I think what was really amazing for us who live in Hawaii and who haven’t visited parts of the world, to go to DC and see all these amazing monuments and historical sites related to to Washington DC was really really amazing. And to realize how big America really is. I think that was pretty impressive, growing up in Hawaii your whole life and have Hōkūle'a sail—water patrolman in front of the, uh, what is the long one that sticks up?
OK: Washington Monument.
AK: That was a really awesome experience. It really really hit home and then when important people came down to visit the canoe and to be able to share our message of Malama Honua and what the canoe means to the people of Hawaii.
OK: Washington DC is impressive if you’ve never seen it before. So you were on board when you went from DC to New York?
AK: Yes. It took us 20 hours. We’re here ... and we’re preparing the canoe for its arrival to the people in New York and the many festivities that we’re going to participate in.
OK: I saw the schedule. You’re going to be busy.
AK: Did you see what we’re doing?
OK: Many different harbors and then speeches” Newport Yacht Club. North Cove Marina. North Cove. Gantry Plaza. Speeches, presentations, education. But the main event is UN World Oceans Day?
AK: Right, right. There’s going to be speeches and presentations about the purpose of the voyage. What we’re doing and why we’re doing it. It’s because we live on an island and we begin to feel the very first effects of what is happening globally to the world. When you live on an island you begin to see these things happening right in front of you. We’re going to share that message with New York and every other place that we’ve been, so far around the world.
OK: Makes sense. Are you going to take people out on the Hōkūle'a?
AK: Yes, yes we’re taking people out: delegates, special people. Who, I don’t know exactly who we’re taking out.
OK: Noe said she was surprised by how cold it was in Washington DC and it was almost summer.
AK: Oh it was freezing in Washington. And it’s kind of cold here in New York. And that’s part of the message as we begin to recognize the effects of climate change. In New York everybody was saying “Wow this is strange. It’s supposed to be the warm time of the year. It’s supposed to be really nice. But yet we’re experiencing these cold temperatures and a lot of rain.” When in actuality it’s supposed to be summer weather.
OK: Well it was 78 degrees in NYC at Christmas, but that’s just part of the screwiness of global warming, isn’t it?
AK: Yeah, there you go. That tells you what we’re beginning to experience with climate change.
OK: So right now you are in a harbor in Jamaica Bay outside of Manhattan and are relaxing before going into Manhattan?
AK: We’re relaxing right now before it starts getting a little hectic for the crew. Preparing ourselves to present Hōkūle'a to the world. And New York is one of those venues to the world.
OK: Yep, the world’s attention is on New York. You’re going to attract a lot of people to the boat. There are a lot of people there.
AK: Yeah and the thing is we are able to [present] the issues that the world is being faced with. You know Polynesians and their ability to navigate the world is one thing, but behind all of this is how do we begin to care for each other. How do we begin to care for our environment. How do we begin to care for our world. Aloha, once we begin to spread the aloha and understand the meaning of the word aloha, that comes into play, to begin to do things that represent aloha. And in turn hopefully that can begin the process to change us as human beings, for the better.
OK: So you’ve seen aloha along the way. The Hawaiians came down and brought food in DC but have you seen aloha from non-Hawaiians?
AK: Oh yes, absolutely. This is really really funny. At the Washington Canoe Club, the people that we met, the people that we touched. You can see it in their eyes. That they have an understanding and want to be connected to what we’re doing. It didn’t have to be from Hawaii. For us to see the Hawaiians come down and host us with food and music was one thing. But to make a connection with others that have no connection to Hawaii, but begin to have a connection with the canoe is really pretty amazing.
OK: Well it’s a beautiful canoe…
AK: They understand it from their heart. So when you see that you understand it from your heart, you can see that they got the message.
OK: That’s great.
AK: Okay perfect. Thanks. Aloha.
After crossing the Atlantic from Namibia and putting in at Natal, Brazil, Hōkūleʻa headed north by northeast into the Caribbean for Leg 18 of this around the world voyage for Malama Honua: Five days in the British Virgin Islands and then to Havana, Cuba, where the Hōkūleʻa crew saw FINCA Marta, an organic farm that used mostly solar power for irrigation. The crew members also visited the Museo de la Canoa to learn about Caribbean canoe history as well as visiting Old Havana Town.
Hōkūleʻa departed Cuba on March 23rd and sailed north to Florida where she stopped in Key West before making the voyage’s first touch of the continental US in the Everglades.
Noelani Kamalu is a 31-year-old educator from Oahu. She was on Hōkūleʻa as a crew member from the British Virgin Islands to Havana, Cuba to Titusville, Florida and saw some island culture: “Havana was different,” Kamalu said. “It was like a snapshot into the 50s. All the old cars, the buildings. It’s like it stood still in time. The food was awesome. I try something new no matter where I go. I liked the culture, the music.”
Hōkūleʻa then made the crossing to Florida, putting in at Key West first, then Everglades City and then zig-zagging north to Fort Myers. Looking at the Hōkūleʻa Tracking Map—it appears the Hawaiian ocean voyaging canoe somehow crossed Florida overland.
What was that? Did they put the canoe on a big-rig or roll it by hand for 50 miles along coconut tree logs or something? “Interesting you mention that because I didn’t know that until weeks before we got on the plane,” Kamalu said. “We had a crew meeting in Honolulu. Originally I was supposed to go to Miami and then he started pointing around the map and I’m thinking, ‘Where is he going? This isn’t the way I thought we were going to go.’ And then he showed me the waterway. I don’t know the waterway but it starts in Fort Myers and passes through Okeechobee Lake and pops out in Stuart, Florida on the east side. It was an interesting experience. It was the first time Hōkūleʻa had been through a lock system. Or locks in general. Most of us had never been in a lock.”
According to Noelani, all along the way, Hōkūleʻa and her crew carried a message of Hawaiian aloha which was returned with many different flavors of aloha: Cuban Aloha, Floridian aloha, Washington aloha. The crew were treated like family, but in Stuart, Florida, Noelani Kamalu really did meet family:
"I happen to have [family] who live in Florida, who helped to host and mālama the crew of Hōkūleʻa. They greeted us on the dock, made us`ono food, and were overall amazing hosts," said Noelani, "And, while I would like to say that they did it because they had relatives aboard Hōkūleʻa, I know that they would have taken care of the crew, regardless of my family’s involvement in the Worldwide Voyage."
For the transit along the east coast of Florida through the Inter Coastal Waterway Noe stayed with the boat from Stuart up to Titusville. Each leg of Hōkūleʻa's adventure has pleasures and perils - whether it be out in the middle of ocean, or tucked away in a protected inland waterway. From Stuart north along Florida, Hōkūleʻa was under way only during daylight hours, so they docked or anchored every night. “As a result Captain Bruce has stressed the importance of knots, line handling and overall good seamanship” according to Mark Elis on the Hōkūleʻa Blog.
From Stuart to Indian Harbor is 44 miles as Google Earth flies, and that was the first day of the ICW leg, according to Shawn Kana’iapuni.
"We traveled through the waterways, got here to Indian Harbor. And we decided to stop here because we were losing daylight, and it ended up being a good decision because there was space in this beautiful community," said Noelani, "The community outpouring has been fabulous here in Florida. There’s so many Hawaii connections and people have fed us, housed us, and given us so much aloha. So mahalo to all of you out there in Indian Harbor who have made us feel welcomed."
From Indian Harbor it was a two-day voyage north to Titusville, through a waterway that is equally industrial and natural—manatees and factories—and where Hōkūleʻa’s message of Malama Honua—to care for our island earth—resonated and spread across the water.
At Titusville, Hōkūleʻa was greeted by 200 smiling faces who had heard word of the coming of the canoe from the other side of the world. Crew and guests were treated to a performance by Halau Hula o Kaleooka'iwa that made everyone feel much closer to Hawaii.
Crew 18 cleaned and prepped the boat for Crew 19 in Titusville, and then they all took a sidetrip to NASA Kennedy Space Center to honor two Hawaiians—Lacy Veach and Ellison Onizuka—two pioneering space navigators who use the stars to explore space, much as their Hawaiian ancestors used the stars to navigate through the Pacific. (For more on that connection between traveling through space and traveling through the Pacific, click here.)
The next day, the official changing of the crew from 18 to 19 happened in the afternoon. Leg 19 of the Hōkūleʻa’s voyage passed from Florida into Georgia, along the Outer Banks of North Carolina and to Charleston, South Carolina, where they were greeted by Native Americans and gave canoe rides at the Charleston Outdoor Festival.
Hōkūleʻa and crew celebrated Earth Day in Newport News, Virginia then pulled into Yorktown on April 24—where Hōkūleʻa spent two weeks, before sailing through Tangier Island and Alexandria then up the Potomac River to arrive in Washington DC for a whole different level of aloha.
As we all know, OluKai has become of the most successful footwear giants in the retail marketplace. This isn’t just due to exceptional design, creative product development and excellent marketing. For over 10 years, and since day one, OluKai has made a point of giving back to the community and supporting Hawaiian culture. OluKai does this with their deep respect for the Hawaiian Islands through many diverse giveback campaigns, community donations and the desire to be more than just an ethical manufacturer.
Dan McInerny is not only one of the founding partners of the OluKai brand, but he is also the Executive Director of their 501 (c) 3 non-profit foundation, the Ama OluKai Foundation. We recently had the opportunity to interview Dan about OluKai’s community and cultural outreach programs, country-wide events and the mission of Ama Olukai.
OK: The Ama OluKai Foundation was founded in 2014, but OluKai has always found it important to give back to Hawaiian communities. Can you provide a little background history about this, and tell us why this is so important to OluKai as a brand?
DM: When we founded the company in 2005, we had a deep affinity to Hawai’i from our own personal experiences and relationship to the islands over the years. One of the partners, Bill Worthington, grew up in Hawai’i. I spent many years in Hawai’i from my days at Quiksilver. Giving back to the communities was easy for us because it was our kuleana to do so and it became one of our brand tenets while building the company.
Before establishing our Foundation, we started giving back on a more informal basis when we started the company, even before we were turning a profit. One of our first products was the Rabbit Kekai slipper. A percentage of the proceeds from each sale went back to the Rabbit Kekai Foundation, introducing underprivileged keikis (kids) to surfing and the ocean. Giving back has always given us a lot of joy because it is what we genuinely believe in and the right thing to do.
OK: On Ama OluKai's website, there’s a list of non-profit groups that are inaugural beneficiaries to The Foundation. As a group, they seem to be a complete representation of Hawaii’s oceans, land, sky and cultural efforts. Can you discuss the connection with the Hawaiian Lifeguard Association, and give us some more information about why this relationship is so important?
DM: Archie Kalepa was the head lifeguard in Maui for 31 years and is now a very important member and Konohiki at OluKai. He taught us that to be a lifeguard in Hawai’i is a big deal. It is like passing the test to become a paramedic or fireman. It is a profession that requires hard work and dedication. We recognize and honor each lifeguard for what they do on a daily basis protecting the shores of seven Hawaiian islands. We view them as our Olympic athletes.
We have a deep respect for Ralph Goto and Jim Howe, who founded the Hawaiian Lifeguard Association (HLA). Unlike on the mainland, the lifeguard association does not receive public funds. The HLA is a private entity. Our support for the HLA has been dedicated to their Junior Lifeguard Program, which is the feeder program for so many keikis around Hawaii in becoming highly skilled lifeguards. Our love for the ocean and the need to create a platform for the next generation of kids to excel in Hawaii is why this relationship is so important.
OK: Even before the Ama OluKai Foundation was created, OluKai as a brand has always been a huge supporter of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, and the incredibly profound journeys of the Hokule’a. Can you share with us more about how this all came into fruition? What do you believe is the most important message that the Hokule’a brings to our world?
DM: Honor, Respect and Celebrate are the cornerstones of our Ama OluKai Foundation. Our relationship and respect for Nainoa Thompson, Bruce Blankenfeld and the many crew members and staff of the Polynesian Voyaging Society over the years runs deep. After statehood in 1959, a generation of Hawaiians lost many of the values and traditions that made this island culture so special. It wasn’t until 1976, with the launch of the Hokule’a, that revitalized Hawaiian culture’s important connection to its ancestral past. Wayfinding without instruments in the open ocean is an important part of Hawaiian history that must not be forgotten.
Our company recognized the importance of supporting this renaissance for Hawaii’s next generation and this is why we support organizations like the Polynesian Voyaging Society, ‘Imiloa and Na Kalai Wa’a, who are all dedicated to the traditions of celestial navigation and how important the wa’a (outrigger canoe) is to the community.
The most important message that the Hokule’a brings to our world is Malama Honua, care for our island earth. Every nation has a role and responsibility in protecting our valuable natural resources. Our planet is like our own island — it is smaller than we think with limited resources. Let’s take care of it properly. Hawaiian astronaut Lacy Veach taught us this while hovering over earth from his Nasa spacecraft back in 1992. The Hokule’a world wide voyage is dedicated to this message of Malama Honua, and we are as well at OluKai.
OK: The Hokule’a recently reached the East Coast on their Worldwide Voyage, and was welcomed at the 26th Annual Charleston Outdoor Festival. How was OluKai involved in this event? Secondly, what do you believe was the largest significance of the Hokule’a as a guest in Charleston considering the American Civil War history of this community?
DM: Nainoa Thompson and I spoke back in January about the importance of spreading the message of Malama Honua. The Hokule’a is opening the door to the world with this message and it is important that companies like OluKai continue to spread this message. We have 2,500 retailers in America who support the OluKai brand. It is our responsibility to introduce them to the world wide voyage of the Hokule’a and its message of caring for island earth as it sails along the eastern seaboard and visits each port community. The Ama OluKai Foundation was in Charleston to help support the crew and their message with the community and our retailers.
Leading up to the Civil War, 40% of all slaves that came from Africa to America traveled through the port of Charleston. Ironically, the significance of the Hokule’a’ visiting Charleston from my own perspective was that Hawaii’ has its own subtle tie to human rights challenges over the years. The Hokule’a was welcomed by several Native American tribes from the region, which was very powerful. The significance was the importance of respecting the value of indigenous people, their culture and values.
OK: Why is it so important for OluKai to give back to the Hawaiian community? How did this become a part of the brands overall philosophy?
DM: Giving back has always been a part of our DNA at OluKai. Not only do we focus on giving back in Hawai’i, but we give back in many mainland communities across the country. We have earned the designation of a B Corporation, which identifies for-profit companies that meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. We are proud about this recognition.
Giving back became part of our company philosophy because we wanted to build a strong culture of giving back that aligns with the morals and values of the partners, our employees and consumers.
OluKai: As you stated, Honor, Preserve and Celebrate are the core values of the Ama OluKai Foundation. It’s so fantastic to see a brand have such a rich respect for Hawaii’s cultural history. How will OluKai continue to follow these values in the future of the foundation? Are there any current issues or projects in place that our readers should know about? (ocean, land, environmental)
Dan: There is a very powerful movement underway in Hawaii centered around the preservation of Hawaii’s rich cultural history and traditions. This is especially evident among the younger generation of Hawaiians who are deeply proud of their roots and are working hard to revitalize these efforts. The Ama OluKai Foundation recognizes these efforts and will continue to seek grass roots organizations centered around language, customs, art, education and moral values in Hawaiian communities. We have established new partnerships on Molokai and Oahu with groups like Huli, The Movement and Papahana Kuaola who are dedicated to the education and restoration of the ahupua’a ecosystems and their corresponding fishponds that have sustained Hawaiian villages for decades. We are also working with Punana Leo schools that are revitalizing native Hawaiian language in the community classrooms at an early age.
OluKai: If people in the Hawaiian community wanted to be involved in Ama OluKai events or any volunteer opportunities, what would be the best way they could reach out? Are there any current projects that the community could share involvement in?
Dan: I encourage your readers to visit our Foundation website at www.amaolukaifoundation.org. They will notice that we have partnerships with families like the Lindsey’s on Maui who started organizations like Maui Cultural Lands, which encourages volunteer participation to restore an ancient Hawaiian village and its surrounding ahupua’a ecosystem in the Honokowai Valley. Na Kama Kai is an all inclusive ocean education program started by Duane Desoto, which was created for keikis in Hawaii from less fortunate communities. I encourage everyone to visit our friends at Imiloa, located in Hilo on the Big Island, who have created an amazing Hawaiian cultural experience via their science museum and planetarium. We are so proud of all of our partnerships that do so much to support education and awareness centered around cultural preservation in the islands.
OluKai: With the 8th Annual OluKai Ho’olaule’a taking place on Maui April 29-May 1st 2016, what are your thoughts about how far this event has come? Did OluKai ever dream that this event would become so huge in the world-wide ocean sports community? Is there any specific part of the event that you are especially looking forward to?
Dan: The Ho’olaule’a is a celebration of the ocean lifestyle and the cultures that surround it. What started as a grass roots gathering of paddlers, retailers, beneficiaries, employees and friends has evolved into one of the most popular events of the year. Over 600 paddlers sign up for our stand-up paddle, OC1 and OC2 race each year. These premiere athletes come from Hawaii and around the world. It continues to grow every year and we are humbled by its popularity and success. It is a terrific family experience if you have never been a part of it.
On Monday, May 2nd, after the Ho’olaule’a weekend event, the Ama OluKai Foundation will be hosting a Giveback Day in partnership with Maui Cultural Lands. Over 100 volunteers consisting of OluKai employees, our retail partners, beneficiaries and friends will dedicate this day to help restore and preserve the natural vegetation and ahupua’a of the Honokowai Valley. We will be greeted by the Hawai’i Loa sailing canoe in the afternoon for our guests to experience what it is like to crew on the Hokule’a. It is quite a special day that creates a deeper awareness for our guests who have never experienced Hawaii quite like this.
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