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Launch date set for Mo‘okiha o Pi‘ilani

By Staff | Jun 26, 2014

Mo‘okiha o Pi‘ilani is scheduled to launch on Friday, July 11, at Mala Wharf Boat Ramp in Lahaina.

LAHAINA – Hui o Wa’a Kaulua Capt. Timi Gilliom, canoe builder and kapena of Mo’okiha o Pi’ilani, said Maui’s own double-hull ocean voyaging canoe will launch on the Akua Moon on Friday, July 11, at Mala Wharf Boat Ramp in Lahaina.

Beginning at noon, cultural canoe launch protocols and festivities will lead up to the ho’olana launch at high tide between 3:30 and 4 p.m.

“Mo’okiha o Pi’ilani and her crew are ready to start sea trials,” said Gilliom. “Mahalo to all who put their mana and energy into this wa’a kaulua (double-hull canoe.)”

Hundreds of individuals, Maui businesses and organizations gave cash and in-kind donations to pay for expensive safety equipment, coating materials, sails, specialty woods and a custom boat trailer.

Volunteers provided nearly all the labor, and county and state government agencies lent their support.

Generous grants came from the Makana Aloha Foundation, Lahaina Restoration Foundation, Patricia Grace Steele Trust, Stephen Finn, Alexander and Baldwin Foundation, Matson, Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Trust Company of America, Ameritus Charitable Foundation, Tri-Isle Conservation, E Ola Pono LLC, and The O.L Moore Foundation.

The Mo’okiha o Pi’ilani project began in 1998 and sailed rough seas.

“Every challenge was brand new for Maui builders and sailors,” said Kimokeo Kapahulehua of the hui. “Kapena Timi Gilliom is our longest standing volunteer. He has given 18 years of his life without pay to complete Maui’s voyaging canoe. Were it not for him, Mo’okiha would not be ready to go. We are very grateful to him.”

Kapahulehua is careful not to take credit for finishing the canoe, saying that everything brought to the project from the very beginning was necessary to grow the canoe, crew and organization.

“Those here now, and those of past years, all bring us to this moment. The canoe is born of early inspirations: Auntie Poepoe, Kupuna Ned Lindsey and Herb Kane at the Polynesian Voyaging Society. He moku ka wa’a, he wa’a ka moku (canoe and island are one). Mo’okiha and Hui o Wa’a Kaulua represent the work of many hands and the ‘ike of many halau (learning from many places).”

Gilliom said the canoe is a living entity. “The wa’a is in control. No matter what the challenge, this canoe is destined to sail – and we will float her out on the July Akua Moon high tide.”

In addition to canoe building, Hui o Wa’a Kaulua offers educational experiences in traditional voyaging arts: traditional sailing, celestial navigation and wayfinding, and canoe plant sustainability. This year, over 700 Maui schoolchildren have attended “Keiki Crew Training” sessions.

Maui Navigator Kala Baybayan and Maui Captains Faawae Maluia and Palani Wright trained under the direction of Gilliom, Chad Baybayan and Nainoa Thompson.

Free video presentations about Master Navigator Mau Piailug and the history of Hokule’a are open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the hui’s dry dock in Kamehameha Iki Park at 525 Front St.

For information, visit www.huiowaa.org or friend Hui o Wa?a Kaulua on Facebook.