LAHAINA - Voyaging canoes are meant to be sailed, Hui o Wa'a Kaulua emphasized, and the Mo'okiha o Pi'ilani has been waiting for that day to arrive.
Mo'okiha, a 62-foot, double-hulled voyaging canoe, will serve as a living classroom for the youth of Hawaii and community of Maui.
According to the hui, for over 17 years, Mo'okiha has been sitting in her hale at Kamehameha Iki Park staring at the kai, awaiting the moment that she will finally touch the ocean.
Students on board the voyaging canoe can learn sailing, leadership values and cultural knowledge in a unique environment. PHOTO BY CADENCE FEELEY.
Although funding and labor have played a major role in the long process, the canoe is more than 90 percent complete and just needs a last push to get her in the water.
Students on board the deep-sea voyaging canoe will have the chance to learn leadership values and cultural knowledge in a unique environment that is not bound by walls.
Hui o Wa'a Kaulua's mission is to conduct educational programs to excite and challenge youth and their communities to learn, respect and care for their natural and social environment.
The importance of sustainability and respect for the environment will be stressed on the wa'a (canoe), the hui noted, and her presence is a symbol that honors the rich maritime history of these islands.
Saturday's King Kamehameha Day ho'olaule'a featured canoe exhibits and rides, Makahiki games, awa ceremonies, youth activities, local entertainment, food booths and the opening of the Polynesian Voyaging Theater.
One of the food vendors at the event, Pacific'O restaurant, donated its proceeds toward the completion of Mo'okiha o Pi'ilani.
The hui seeks generous support from the community to finish and launch Mo'okiha.
"We need generous supporters who understand the need for cultural awareness and education. Our needs to launch are under $50,000 and include items such as anchors, chain, line, sleeping canvas, lifejackets, and more. It's almost 90 percent complete, and this is the last push to the water," Hui o Wa'a Kaulua noted in a press release last week.
"Your kokua will enable us to continue our youth programs, begin sailing and sustain these ancient traditions. Volunteers are also needed for crew, daily work on the canoe, rigging, and kupuna that are interested in giving daily tours."
The hui has a second canoe, the Mo'olele, and training in voyaging began Saturday.
Hui o Wa'a Kaulua is looking for volunteers and escort vessels to donate their time once a week for training. Weather- and tide-permitting, the sails will likely be held on Saturdays or Sundays.