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Makali‘i to embark on new journey

The voyaging canoe Makali‘i is undergoing final preparations to embark on a voyage to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands of Nihoa and Mokumanamana.

According to Waimea-based Na Kalai Wa‘a: Makali‘i Voyaging ‘Ohana, the plan, weather permitting, is to launch Friday from Kawaihae for Maui.

Makali‘i will then sail to Oahu, and depart for Mokumanamana on June 13 or 14. The voyage should take about 10 days, one way, and the double-hulled canoe should arrive back home in Kawaihae on about June 30.

“The purpose of the voyage is really quite deep. It’s about recognizing that Hawaiian people have the need to voyage. And this will be a way to support the health of our Hawaiian people,” said Na Kalai Wa‘a spokeswoman Keomailani Case on Monday.

The voyage, titled Hanaunaola, is made possible by a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration grant.

The project is in the final year of the three-year grant — $388,328 in fiscal year 2018 — with this voyage as the culminating event. The voyage to Mokumanamana is in partnership with the Edith Kanaka‘ole Foundation, which has conducted research about and at Mokumanamana for the past 14 years.

The main objectives of the grant are to train crew for “leadership legacy,” work with community to provide 30 days worth of food for the canoe and combine the first two objectives to plan and “execute a capstone voyage to actualize learning via practice.”

“We decided that we would not just train trainees on the canoe but also offer opportunities for people on land to also be training in what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. And also to be trained about the canoe and proper protocol for the canoe,” Case said. “We wanted to give our schools and our community organizations opportunity to support the voyage. So we asked them to support us by making our food.

“This will be the first voyage in modern times that has been provisioned entirely from food grown, harvested and prepared from our ‘aina,” said Chadd ‘Onohi Paishon, pwo (master) navigator, who will lead the voyage with fellow pwo navigator Milton “Shorty” Bertelmann. “If we are able to successfully provision our canoe from our island, it says a lot about our community, and if we aren’t able to, it says a lot about our community.”

Added Case, “We won’t be taking cans of Spam and cans of corned beef, as voyages have done in the past. We’ll be taking food that was prepared here that is better for our bodies.

“And we wanted our communities and school groups to prepare that food and cordage made and taken along to present as a makana, or gift, to the islands there, and to learn the protocol that will go along with that. That means the chants and the pule (prayers) that will support the people and the vessels as they go on the way.”

Paishon and Bertelmann will be in charge of about 14 crew on the canoe at any given time.

“Different legs of the voyage will have different captains, as they have a crew of trainees as well as experienced crew,” Case said. “But the three years we have prepared for this opportunity have given each person who is a trainee an opportunity to … learn more and become different positions of the crew. Some may have begun as a crew member and now will become a watch captain, maybe. I can’t tell you who is going to captain each leg. Those decisions will be made by our two pwo navigators.”

Lehua Ah Sam, mother of a year-old daughter, Iti, and a Makali‘i crew member, said, “The leaders of tomorrow will come from the keiki that are introduced to the wa‘a today.”

Those words are a reflection of the philosophy held by the late Micronesian navigator Mau Piailug. “Papa Mau” reached across cultures, navigating the canoe Hokule‘a on its 1976 voyage to Tahiti and teaching Hawaiians and others the art and science of wayfinding — open-ocean navigation without instruments.

The Makali‘i, which took its own maiden voyage to Tahiti with Hokule‘a in 1995, will be accompanied by escort vessel Alaka‘i.

“It’s there to escort them and support, when needed — or to tow them, which we don’t expect,” Case said. “Makali‘i will be taking the lead and doing all their own navigation,” she added.

For more information about Hanaunaola and to follow the voyage, visit and

Email John Burnett at
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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