Three years and more than 40,000 miles after departing Honolulu’s south shore for Hilo and oceans beyond, the traditional Hawaiian sailing canoe Hokule‘a is on its way home after circumnavigating the globe.
Hokule‘a left Tahiti on May 17 under the direction of captain Pomai Bertelmann and navigator Ka‘iulani Murphy, and is expected to arrive in the waters off Magic Island with escort vessel Hikianalia between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. June 17, according to the Polynesian Voyaging Society.
The Malama Honua (“Care for the Earth”) Worldwide Voyage marked the first time Hokule‘a left the Pacific Ocean to take its message of natural resource protection to communities in 18 countries, with more than 250 crew members taking part in 150 port calls. Completing the trip safely was paramount, but the experience of bringing Polynesian wayfinding culture to new locales was also vital to the voyage’s overall success.
“Hokule‘a isn’t a known quantity outside the Pacific, so it was very much a learning experience for everyone involved,” said Eric Co, a Molokai resident who sailed in Samoa and through the Caribbean while cooking meals for the 12 to 14 crew members on each of the two legs he participated in. “The interactions with our hosts, I think, was where the richness of the overall experience came in. Being out in the middle of the night in the middle of the ocean with no power and no warm glow of a cellphone, that has its own kind of self-reflective experience.
“And then on land, there’s this complete contrast. It was very intense, socially,” Co said. “There were a lot of events and a lot of things that needed to be done while in port, and just to experience the host cultures and what they wanted to share with us was just amazing.”
Polynesian Voyaging Society educational coordinator Jenna Ishii played an important role in planning for the voyage as one of two people responsible for spearheading outreach efforts to schools and other parties in the countries Hokule‘a visited.
As master navigator Nainoa Thompson’s executive assistant, it was also her job to accompany Thompson around the world to meet up with the canoe and its crew at various ports during its travels. And as an apprentice navigator, she helped guide Hokule‘a through more than a dozen legs of the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage.
“I can’t even believe it’s coming to an end,” Ishii said. “This was such an impossible task when we started. People were very supportive, but a lot of people also thought we were crazy to try it.
“It’s going to hit us hard, I think, when we see people come to the beach. The greatest thing is that we don’t have to carry this by ourselves. People are saying, ‘We want to celebrate Hokule‘a too.’ I love that people are coming to us with ideas. That’s going to be the fun part, reliving the experience with the community so they can feel like they were there.”
In addition to a full slate of homecoming events that start this month and last through summer 2018 (see list on page 7), Ishii confirmed there are plans to take crew members around the state to all of the places Hokule‘a and Hikianalia visited before departing on the worldwide voyage in May 2014.
“Every community is going to have a story, and that’s what’s really exciting because it’s not just about Hokule‘a, it’s about what was left in her wake because she went,” Ishii said. “This summer she’ll go up to Nihoa to touch the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and then start her statewide sail probably next spring.
“This is just the beginning of a whole movement of what people are going to be doing around the world. We want to thank everyone for believing in the dream. Don’t be sad that it’s over. Hokule‘a is going to keep sailing. She can sail for another 40 years. This is just the beginning.”
MALAMA HONUA WORLDWIDE VOYAGE HOMECOMING EVENTS
>> “Hokule‘a Homecoming: A Talk Story with the Crew of Malama Honua”: 6 to 8:30 p.m. at Ward Village Courtyard. With Malama Honua crew members Eric Co, Cat Fuller, Nakua Konohia-Lind, Jenna Ishii, Miki Tomita and Kaniela Lyman-Mersereau. Free. Call 591-8411.
>> “Worldwide Voyage”: a Hokule‘a benefit and exhibition, 2 to 5 p.m. at Bloomingdale’s Ala Moana, Level 1. Malama Honua crew members and educators will host a talk story event for all ages in honor of World Oceans Day, with Bloomingdale’s donating 10 percent of tracked sales to the Polynesian Voyaging Society. An exhibition presenting the navigational story of the voyage will be on display through June 30. Free. Call 664-7511.
>> King Kamehameha Celebration Floral Parade: The 101st annual parade starts at 9 a.m. in front of Iolani Palace and continues to Kapiolani Park with the theme “Hooilina Pulama Na Na Mamo (Passing the Torch).” A hoolaulea will follow at Kapiolani Park from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit hawaii.com/kamehamehaday for more information.
>> Hokule‘a Homecoming Ceremony and Celebration: 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Magic Island. Hokule‘a and about seven accompanying vessels will sail into the Ala Wai Boat Harbor Channel (exact time subject to change due to weather and safety conditions), with a welcoming ceremony scheduled from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. A Hokule‘a Homecoming Hoolaulea will follow from 1 to 5:30 p.m. at Ala Moana Regional Park. Visit hokulea.com for more information.
>> Hokule‘a Homecoming at Night Market: An evening of family-friendly entertainment is planned at Salt at Our Kaka‘ako, with live entertainment on stage at the corner of Ala Moana Boulevard and Keawe Street along with a second stage at the corner of Auahi and Coral streets from 5 to 10 p.m. Performers include Kapena, Waipuna, Kupaoa, Taimane and Kimie. A fashion show featuring Rance China is planned from 8 to 8:30 p.m. The Flats at Puunui, 440 Keawe St., will host a “Movie in the Park” at 6:45 p.m. with a screening of “Moana” at 8 p.m. Call 545-4835.
>> Malama Honua Fair and Summit: From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at the Hawai‘i Convention Center, a variety of educational exhibits, voyaging films and more will be on display. In addition, free Hokule‘a canoe tours will be given along the Ala Wai Promenade adjacent to the convention center; voyage-inspired merchandise including books, DVDs and clothing will be available for purchase. Visit hokulea.com for more information.
>> Malama Honua Inspirational Speaker Series: featuring a lineup of guests who have participated in the worldwide voyage, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Hawai‘i Convention Center. Featured speakers include Sylvia Earle, captain Don Walsh, Jean-Michel Cousteau and master navigator Nainoa Thompson. Cost: $125. Visit hokulea.com for more information.
>> “Hokule‘a Crew Talk Story”: 3 to 5 p.m. at Growler USA Honolulu, 449 Kapahulu Ave. Join Hokule‘a crew members to learn more about their personal experiences aboard the canoe as it traveled around the world. A Malama Honua-inspired beer by Lanikai Brewing Co. in honor of the past, present and future of Polynesian voyaging will be featured. Free. Call 600-5869.
>> “Worldwide Voyage: Hawaii Shares its Culture with the World”: 3 to 5 p.m. at the Volcano Art Center, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. As part of an exhibition on display at the Volcano Art Center through July 2, a reception will be held with participating artists and navigator Kalepa Baybayan to discuss the photographs, cultural items and fine art on display that present the navigational story of Hokule‘a’s worldwide voyage. Cost: $25 per private vehicle with up to 15 passengers, $20 per motorcycle, $12 per pedestrian; call 985-6000.
>> “Holo Moana: Generations of Voyaging”: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (except Thanksgiving and Christmas) through summer 2018 at Bishop Museum, 1525 Bernice St. Celebrate the story of how the centuries-old practice of ocean voyaging has been reawakened, reactivated and re-envisioned by Hawaiian and Oceanic voyagers over the last 50 years. Bishop Museum and the Polynesian Voyaging Society present the exhibit, which explores the history and legacy of the revitalization of long-distance voyaging that started in Hawaii in the 1970s. A variety of cultural objects, archives, photos and films from Bishop Museum and the Polynesian Voyaging Society will be on display. Museum admission: $22.95 general admission ($14.95 with valid Hawaii ID), $14.95 for keiki ages 4-12 ($10.95 with valid Hawaii ID), free for keiki under 4. Call 847-3511 or visit bishopmuseum.org.