HONOLUA - Accompanied by a highly trained crew, voyaging canoe Hokule'a Navigator and master story teller Nainoa Thompson returned to Honolua Bay last week for a final visit before the Polynesian Voyaging Society vessel departs for its epic worldwide journey next year.
Landing after visits to 30 Hawaiian communities in the bay where the Hokule'a's first journey to Tahiti began 38 years ago, the crew was welcomed by some 100 supporters of Hawaiian culture, including many kupuna, with chants and flower lei.
In the evening, Thompson talked story before a gathering at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, retelling the story of Eddie Aikau, heroic crewman who perished on a canoe rescue mission in 1978 (Lahaina News, "Voices of Maui," June 27).
The Hokule‘a and its escort canoe visited pristine Honolua Bay last week Monday in preparation for Hokule‘a’s worldwide voyage. PHOTOS BY NORM BEZANE.
Thompson told the audience that "we will not go (on the worldwide journey) unless we have the support of the community." The canoe appears to have overwhelming support.
The Hokule'a will soon move to dry dock in Oahu before its launch in 2014, when winds and currents are right and danger from tropical storms is at a minimum.
The society will be working to improve its escort vessel, which will be operated in part with solar power.
Hawaii and Lahaina may soon have two voyaging canoes: the improved Hokule'a, plus the new Lahaina voyaging canoe Mo'okiha o Pi'ilani, which planners hope to launch Dec. 21.
Speaking before Thompson, Kayla Baybayan of Hui O Wa'a Kaulua emphasized the need to raise $50,000 to purchase canvas and rigging to finish Mo'okiha o Pi'ilani.
"It has been 17 years in dry dock and needs to get into the water," Thompson said.
Both canoes have an educational purpose, focusing on introducing and teaching to people it visits Hawaiian values, approaches to sustaining the planet and educating future generations.
Contributions to help launch Mo'okiha o Pi'ilani may be made at www.huiowaa.org, or mail donations to Hui O Wa'a Kaulua, 525 Front St., Lahaina, HI 96761.