LAHAINA - The dedication of the new Lahaina Canoe Club wa'a at Hanakao'o Beach Park by Rev. Earl Kukahiko last week Saturday was a blessing for the entire West Side community.
The club's first, outgoing and incoming presidents were on hand to awaken the spirit of the Makana Aloha, a Bradley Encore racing vessel specifically designed for keiki and women paddlers.
A master carver and Hawaiian cultural leader, Sam Ka'ai was reluctant to take the title of first president.
Lahaina Canoe Club blessed its new keiki wa'a, Makana Aloha, at Hanakao'o Beach Park on Dec. 17. Photo by Zane Mathias.
In an interview with the Lahaina News, he explained, "Apparently, there was a club long before me."
His role at the ceremony last weekend was to offer a "sense of place" and historical perspective.
"In the revival/wake up in the early '60s, I got the Lahaina merchants' association - well, they were not an association at that time - to buy two canoes that created all of that. I was the first, maybe the symbol of men who pick up the hoe (paddle)," he added.
Peter Sanborn, former Maui manager for Amfac/JMB, Ka'ai recalled, was responsible for acquiring the land at Hanakao'o, also known as "Canoe Beach."
"When we were first there, it was just a keawe patch," the kanaka maoli from Kaupo recalled.
"Now, the facility, it's turned into a wonderful program. The whole program - the Kahana, the Napili and the Lahaina, all the clubs that share the beach," he commented.
"It was very heartfelt to be there to awaken this canoe," Ka'ai continued, and to witness that the "ku kanaka, those that stand along the shore, have picked up the paddle and are carrying on."
Outgoing President Adam Quinn has led the Lahaina paddlers for the past three years.
Outreach would best define his charge.
"Everything that has transpired in the past three years really has been about Makana Aloha," he said, appropriately named after the donating foundation.
In Hawaiian, makana means gift, and the $20,321.15 orange and black, 44-foot wa'a was gifted to Lahaina Canoe Club from the Makana Aloha Foundation.
The affiliation with the local nonprofit has helped to define the club's mission.
"Makana Aloha Foundation is instrumental in whale trusts, and they are instrumental in many other community organizations here on Maui. That was a very important step for Lahaina Canoe Club to take. It was extremely important, to me personally, to align ourselves with an organization like Makana Aloha. Not because they could write a check, but because their beliefs are very much akin to our hopes and dreams. Their realty is where we want to go," Quinn explained.
"Makana Aloha and community support and Lahaina Canoe Club and community service; we are really trying to make sure our efforts are as significant off the water as they are on the water.
"We were the finish line aid station for the 2011 Maui Marathon. We supported the Aluminum Man Biathlon series. We're going to try and be involved more and more," Quinn continued.
"We want to be able to help other non-profits, like Women Helping Women and the Maui children's autism program by re-igniting the Friday night recreational paddling program. Visitors and residents alike can come down to the beach Friday evening and go for a paddle before sunset and then have a little barbecue," he said.
Donations will be accepted, and half of the proceeds will go to a selected charity of choice.
"The point being, we can use the canoes as a catalyst for enjoyment and supporting other organizations," Quinn explained.
The incoming president, Michael Rains, is on the same page.
"This year LCC is about giving. We are here to strengthen our community," he said.
"Paddling is a rich part of the Hawaiian culture that can only strengthen the community," Rains remarked. "In a canoe you have six members that all must do their part to make the canoe move forward. But they must learn to do this in unison to be successful. This is the same as in the community - we must all work together to make a strong community."