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West Maui crew members help spread Hokule‘a’s important message to the world

By Staff | Dec 25, 2014

LAHAINA – The miracle, the magic, the mystique, the message of the Hokule’a is being channeled across the planet as it voyages across the blue calling Malama Honua (Care for our Planet Earth.)

Six months ago in May, the storied 62-foot Hawaiian voyaging canoe and sister ship Hikianalia embarked from Hilo on this historic four-year, 47,000-mile journey to 26 countries and 85 international ports.

Prior to that in 2013, she shared her message with the people of Hawaii, sailing from port to port, outreaching to the community, the keiki, the young and the old.

And support for the Pacific Voyaging Society and the World Wide Voyage has followed her from the beginning – from the Senate Floor on Oahu to the distant shores of New Zealand and beyond – and is growing exponentially.

The mission of the Hokule’a rings true to all hearing its harmonic tenor: to “navigate toward a healthy and sustainable future for ourselves, our home – the Hawaiian Islands – and our Island Earth through voyaging and new ways of learning.

“Our core message is to malama (care for) Island Earth – our natural environment, children and all humankind,” the Hokuela.org website expounds.

The premise is universal, simple and bold: “One ocean. One island earth. Sign the pledge.”

In March, State Sen. Gilbert Kahele (District One, Hilo) introduced two resolutions and said: “Our experiences and shared knowledge are really the things that define our lives. We all can learn from each other, and the voyages of the Hokule’a reminds us of this. We’re all in this together, so we need to care for each other; work together.”

Inspired, Jack Johnson, Oahu-born singer-songwriter, musician, actor, record producer and professional surfer, joined the corps of voices spreading the word with his outreach to the keiki of Hawaii in our schools: “I challenge everyone to look at their own life and ask: ‘What do I have the capacity to do?’ “

He wrote a song to memorialize the legacy of the Hokule’a, “Na Ho’okele Opiopio,” or “The Young Navigators,” a collaboration with veteran island musician Chucky-Boy Chock, sung in Hawaiian and English.

Opportunities to follow the crossing abound and are upfront, close and personal – on the Internet, in the classrooms, on front pages of the press, in blogs and on Facebook, to name only a very few.

It’s astounding.

An independent association of global leaders, the Ocean Elders, has offered its “spirited” support as well, member Dr. Ira Zuin told the Star Advertiser in June from his post onboard the Hikianalia on the first leg of the journey from Hilo to Tahiti.

The Ocean Elders are scientists, royalty, business leaders, philanthropists and entertainment icons, including Jackson Browne, Prince Albert II of Monaco, Sir Richard Branson, Dr. Rita Colwell, Graeme Kelleher, Sven Lindblad, Queen Noor of Jordan, Ted Turner, Neil Young, James Cameron, Jean-Michel Cousteau and Sylvia Earle.

An outspoken member, Branson, cautioned, “The ocean is our life force, yet we cause massive destruction to it every day through a number of routine habits – we overfish it, we pollute it, and we are putting it at risk with climate change.”

The success of the Hokule’a in Apia, Samoa, was captured in world headlines at the Third United Nations Conference on Small Island Developing States.

Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general of the United Nations, joined the crew aboard the Hokule’a and signed the stewardship pledge.

“I would say we are on the same small island, on the same small planet Earth; this is like a small boat in the universe,” he said.

The UN leader presented the president of the Pacific Voyaging Society, Nainoa Thompson, with a handwritten message in a bottle: “I am honored to be a part of Hokule’a’s Worldwide Voyage. I am inspired by its global mission. As you tour the globe, I will work and rally more leaders to our common cause of ushering in a more sustainable future, and a life of dignity for all.”

The image of her success was in stunning display in a photo taken as six voyaging wa’a from around the Pacific sailed into Auckland’s Okahu Bay (voices.nationalgeographic.com/2014/12/18/hokulea-making-a-grand-entrance-in-auckland/).

The message truly comes home embodied in the spirit of West Side voyagers Snake Ah Hee, Timi Gilliom, Archie Kalepa, Kala Baybayan and Mary Anna Rodrigues.

All have experienced the magic of the Hokule’a firsthand on one or multiple voyages.

Capt. Gilliom is a man of few words, but nonetheless passionately committed; he is a true believer.

“We want to open everybody’s eyes on this planet to the little canoe with no engine. A canoe,” Gilliom continued, “is basically a floating island in space. If you don’t malama your resources – your food, your water, your family, your education – it basically is too late.”

Timi is headed back to New Zealand for the next leg of the quest. He is dedicated and proud: “I support them 1,000 percent, and whenever they call me, I go; no matter what.”

Sacred Hearts School eighth grade teacher Mary Anna Enriquez was all about outreach on her leg of the journey aboard the Hikianalia from “Samoa to Samoa,” she said.

Rodrigues was astounded by the reception of the canoe and its crew.

“You have little kids running after you like you’re a rock star with a Sharpie, so that you can sign your name on their arm – not because of us, but because of Hokule’a they have so many questions,” she observed.

“They’re looking at you, asking how do I become a crew member? How do I get on this canoe? People opening up their homes to us. They opened up their lives. They couldn’t give enough, and why?” the intrepid teacher asked, “What is it about this magical canoe?”

Apprentice navigator Kala Baybayan was sensitive; her observations were telling.

“As apprentice navigator,” the 31-year-old daughter of Master Navigator Kalepa Baybayan continued, “you become sensitive to your environment and how changes that may seem subtle to some people can tell the navigator a story of where they are, where they are going, and what kind of weather they will encounter. Passing through different latitudes en route to Tahiti, I noticed abundances in different kinds of sea life and weather patterns unique to each latitude, because at certain latitudes things like ocean temperature would change, and that had a huge affect on the life in that part of the sea.”

She takes her position in the wa’a (canoe) community seriously.

“Our culture is based on universal values of stewardship, caring, and connection to family and community. ‘He wa’a he moku, he moku he wa’a;’ the canoe is the island, and the island is the canoe; we take care of each other and our limited resources. We value nature as it is our greatest teacher, and our lives depend on it. Our ancestors have been voyaging on wa’a for thousands of years; it gives us an understanding of how the tools of the past are applicable to today and critical to our future.”

“Join the movement. Take the pledge. It’s a kakou thing,” the PVS website observes, “Sailing for a sustainable future is an inclusive undertaking.”

Visit www.hokulea.com.

The pledge reads: “I recognize that Earth is a blue planet. Our ocean is the cornerstone of all life, and our planet’s life-support system.

No matter where on Island Earth I live, the ocean produces the air I breathe and helps to regulate the climate.

I recognize our ocean and Island Earth are changing because of the habits and choices of human beings.

I recognize that with supporters like me, and the community I reach out to around me, the future of our oceans and our Island Earth can improve.

The difference will start with me and spread to others. I pledge to support our Oceans and Island Earth, and inspire people of all ages to do the same.”



There was a mistake in the article “West Maui crew members help spread Hokule’a’s important message to the world” in the Dec. 25, 2014 issue.

Mary Anna Enriquez’s name was misspelled. The Lahaina News sincerely apologizes for the error.

Writer Louise Rockett noted, “My bad dreams are made of making a mistake and hurting somebody’s feelings. As public as my mistake was in the edition of the Lahaina News, my apology will be just as public.

“I am sorry, Mary Anna Enriquez, for putting your name wrong in our paper when I wrote about you and your trek aboard the Hikianalia. No excuses. The last thing I wanted to do is insult you in public. It was my mistake.”