The crew of the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s Hokule‘a was greeted with a formal homecoming ceremony at the Grand Naniloa Hotel pier in Hilo this morning, with hula performances, chant and music.
The iconic, double-hulled canoe will remain docked by the Grand Naniloa Hotel during the Merrie Monarch Festival this week, and remain on Hawaii island for two months for free dockside canoe tours and hands-on educational activities with students as part of its “Mahalo, Hawai‘i Sail” tour.
“This is about celebrating, honoring, respecting, recognizing what’s special about being Hawaiian,” said Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim at the ceremony.
Oiwi TV streamed the homecoming ceremony on Facebook live.
Members of the original 1976 crew will be honored at the festival’s Hoike, the free performance at Edith Kanaka‘ole Stadium on Wednesday evening. They will also be on hand for a “talk-story” session from 1 to 2:30 p.m. on Thursday at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center and visit the Keaau campus of Kamehameha Schools on Friday.
After its historic, three-year journey around the world using only the stars and observations of nature to navigate, the traditional Polynesian way, the Hokule‘a and Hikianalia are traveling around the Hawaiian isles to thank the community for its support as well as to share lessons learned. During port visits, the Polynesian Voyaging Society will offer canoe tours, engage with schools and participate in service projects.
Hokule‘a anchored at Kailua-Kona Pier on Friday before departing for Hilo on Sunday, where she will remain until April 28. From April 28 to May 10, the Hokule‘a will be moored at Kawaihae Harbor for public events and dockside canoe tours.
It is the first time the Hokule‘a has returned to Hilo since departing May 2014 for the first leg of its three-year Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage.
Visit hokulea.com for an updated schedule.