Holding Hands

Polynesian Voyaging Society Shares Food, Knowledge with Families February 15, 2019

Polynesian Voyaging Society Shares Food, Knowledge with Families February 15, 2019

After returning to Honolulu from San Francisco, the crew of Hikianalia had a problem.

“We had so much food and water leftover,” said crew member and volunteer coordinator Mariah Hugho. “We estimated our crews would take about 30 days [to reach San Francisco from Honolulu], so we packed our canoes with 40 days’ worth of food and water.”

Hikianalia reached California on September 10th after 23 days at sea. After spending nearly four months on the California coast, she returned to Honolulu on December 12th after 19 days of sailing.

The voyage was named Alahula Kai O Maleka, honoring “the frequented pathway” across the “sea of America,” the ocean between Hawaiʻi and California.

Alahula Kai O Maleka celebrates “the many island-continent relationships that reflect a shared vision for a sustainable Island Earth, a thriving future for our children, and a global consciousness towards human kindness.”

This focus on human kindness branches out into the daily efforts of the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) outside of their famous voyages. Not wanting the leftover provisions to go to waste, the crew members decided to donate what was left to Partners in Development Foundation.

“We are glad we were able to put [the provisions] to good use, to nourish some children’s bodies,” said Hugho. The supplies were picked up by our Ka Paʻalana program and distributed to the Puʻuhonua o Waiʻanae community at the Waiʻanae Boat Harbor.

Puʻuhonua o Waiʻanae is a village of over 200 ‘houseless’ people, including keiki, kūpuna, and working families. The majority of the residents are Native Hawaiian, and all of the residents believe in the shared kuleana of caring for the children there.

“Much mahalo, we are so grateful for the people out there [the Polynesian Voyaging Society],” said one resident who came to help unload the many provisions into the village’s donation tent.

Within a week of the food and water being distributed to the kānaka of Puʻuhonua o Waiʻanae, the Polynesian Voyaging Society donated another invaluable resource: their time.

Taking time off from work and other obligations, 13 crew members hosted families from our Tūtū and Me Traveling Preschool sites at Papakōlea and Makakilo.

Over two days, dozens of keiki and their caregivers had the opportunity to come aboard both the Hikianalia and her sister canoe, Hōkūleʻa, where they are currently docked in Honolulu. The crew members walked the families through the ins and outs of the canoes from the rigging and steering to the necessities of daily living like the galleys and sleeping areas.

Besides the tours of the famous canoes, the families were able to spend time in the nearby classrooms with our Hui Nohona culture team. Cultural Specialist Malia Scanlan and cultural practitioner Aaron Mahi organized a lesson about traditional Hawaiian sailing techniques.

They taught the families about how Hawaiian navigators use star lines to find their way across oceans. Scanlan and Mahi explained the Hawaiian names for stars, combining Hawaiian stories with astronomical observations.

Mahi led the families on ʻukulele to learn a song created by Scanlan to explain some of the main stars and constellations used in traditional navigation: “Nā Hōkū Hoʻokele o Kaiwikuamoʻo,” or “The Navigating Stars of [the star line] Kaiwikuamoʻo.”

At the end of the huakaʻi, the families, Tūtū and me staff, and PVS crew gathered together around Hōkūleʻa for a photo. Mahi led everyone in the “Nā Hōkū” song, which the PVS crew were excited to learn. It was a day of mutual learning and appreciation.

“They’re not our canoes,” said another crew member. “They’re the community’s canoes.”