Makali‘i - Creating Community with a Single Canoe
When the Polynesian Voyaging Society first sailed the double-hulled voyaging canoe (wa‘a kaulua) Hōkūle`a to Tahiti in 1976 — the first such canoe built in Hawai`i in many generations — it set in motion a rediscovery of ancient knowledge held by the oldest cultures in the Pacific, a quest that is still ongoing today.
This past June, when the canoe returned to Honolulu from its most recent voyage — a threeyear, round-the-world journey themed Malama Honua — it was clear from the large crowds gathered at Magic Island and statewide television coverage that the support for and interest in Hōkūle`a has only intensified over the years.
Hawai`i Island’s own voyaging canoe, Makali`i, sailed to O`ahu to welcome Hōkūle`a home, with a crew that included expert navigator (pwo) Chadd Paishon.
“We’ve learned so much from our voyages,” says Paishon, who joined the Polynesian Voyaging Society in the apprentice navigator program in 1990, was a crew member on the Hōkūle`a’s 1992 voyage to Tahiti, and today is a senior captain of Na Kalai Wa`a Moku o Hawai`i, Hawai`i Island’s own voyaging society.
“Above all, we’ve learned that we are all one community, from the ocean to the upcountry, and that we must depend upon and support one another for us all to flourish. Our ancestors brought everything with them,” Paishon says. “They brought their foods, their values, their culture, their spirituality. They were self-sustaining, both on the sea and on the land. In this way, this canoe speaks of where we come from. Those are the lessons we are now teaching to the next generations.”