Hokule‘a hosts tours for military children, local community

Bob Perkins, Hokule‘a crew member, shows visiting school children how to use the Hokule‘a’s steering paddle, called the “hoe uli.”

Story and photo by Blair Martin Gradel

Joint Base Pearl Harbor- Hickam Public Affairs

During its historic week-long stay at Pearl Harbor, members of the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) welcomed aboard 2,000 school children, military families and other interested local community members for free public tours of its legendary canoe, Hokule‘a.

“This is the first time that Hokule‘a has sailed into Pearl Harbor in her 42-year history, and it’s the first time a Polynesian voyaging canoe has sailed these waters in more than 600 years,” said Sonja Swenson Rogers, PVS communications director.

“This engagement with Pearl Harbor and the Puuloa community has helped us discover some of the ancient Hawaiian history and sites of this area including the fishponds that are currently being restored by the community and the U.S. Navy.”

On Feb. 10, the Hokule‘a was welcomed at the marina by the Puuloa community and U.S. Navy, who hosted the canoe for a week-long engagement that included school visits, public dockside tours and a crew “talk story” event.

According to Rogers, the focus of Hokule‘a’s visit was to bring the canoe to more of Hawaii’s children and honor Pearl Harbor’s ancient culture and history as well as learn about efforts to restore the area’s cultural sites, including Loko Pa‘aiau Fishpond, located near McGrew Point Navy housing.

“By bringing Hokule‘a to Rainbow Bay Marina in Puuloa, we are giving kids and the community access to the canoe,” Rogers said.

“As the crew conducts these canoe tours, they are sharing the importance of voyaging and the mission of Malama Honua (which means to care for Island Earth).”

Rogers said that Hokule‘a’s Pearl Harbor visit was part of PVS community outreach initiative called “Mahalo Hawaii Sail,” which involves the Hawaiian icon sailing into more than 30 ports and 70 communities throughout Hawaiian Islands during 2017-2018. At each stop, the crew is expected to interact with local community members, particularly school age children, so that they might experience first-hand the symbol of Hawaiian culture and learn what it was like to live on the open deck of a Polynesian voyaging canoe.

Rogers estimates that during the Hokule‘a’s week-long stay the crew will have given dockside tours to approximately 2,000 students and local military and community members.

Tiffany Ettleman, assistant director at Catlin School Age Center, said her center alone brought more than 83 children throughout the week to visit crewmembers and see the canoe.

“I just think this is the coolest thing because we get to share a piece of ancient history with our kids,” she said. “Many of whom may not even understand how special this visit really is until they go home later or realize this is the first time that this canoe has ever been in Pearl Harbor.”

Many believe that the construction of the Hokule‘a in 1975 started the rebirth of voyaging and sparked a renaissance in Hawaiian culture.

“By bringing the children on the deck of Hokule‘a, the hope is that they will leave with a knowledge of the significance of Hokule‘a and an understanding of the importance of voyaging values that are also relevant on land,” Rogers said. “We and our communities need to malama honua — respect and care for ourselves, each other, and our natural and cultural environments.”

For more information, visit www.hokulea.com.

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Category: News