The World Wide Voyage of Hokule‘a: Canoes as Ambassadors of Culture

Herb Kawainui Kane and the Hokule‘a

Herb Kawainui Kane and the Hokule‘a

Editor’s Note: Keoua Honaunau Canoe Club’s  beloved Herb Kawainui Kane, who passed on in 2011,  was the originator of the conceptual design for the Hokule‘a.  Here is Herb’s story about how the wa‘a was named:

“This happened when the parts of the canoe were close to being completed. One day when I visited the building site, a large shed at Young Bros., one of the guys had chalked ‘Da Boat’ on the side of one of the hulls. When I asked the reason for the graffiti, they said it was to remind me that it was time to come up with a name.

 “According to Kenneth Emory, in the old days a name would come to a canoe designer in a dream. Be that as it may, we tossed the question around at the board meeting a few days later. Several names were suggested, mostly compound names, each including several words; none seemed to be what everyone was looking for. Several weeks went by.

 “One exceptionally clear night I stayed up quite late, star chart in hand, locating and memorizing stars and their relative positions. I think I turned in around midnight. Some time later, I dreamed of stars. My attention was attracted to Arcturus, our Hokule’a. It appeared to grow larger and brighter, so brilliant that I awoke.

 “It’s been a habit for many years to keep a pad and pen on my nightstand. When the body is at rest, the mind half-awake, thoughts range about freely, and ideas form which I’ve found are sometimes worth noting down. Some painting ideas have come to me that way. I turned on my reading light and wrote ‘Hokule’a.’

 “The next morning, I saw the notation, and immediately recognized it as a fitting name for the canoe. As a zenith star for Hawai’i it would be a star of gladness if it led to landfall. I phoned Paige Kawelo Barber; she thought it appropriate. I tried it on a few others and got a positive response. The name was proposed at the next board meeting and adopted.”

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33rd Annual Mac-a-thon Results

You can find the 5k results and 10k results at A huge mahalo to everyone who participated, all of our club members who volunteered, and to our local businesses and community members who helped support our club. We couldn’t do it without you!

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The Mac-A-Thon race course: a unique cultural landscape

Mac-A-Thon art-for ANA

The coastal areas of the four ahupua‘a between Hōnaunau and Napo‘opo‘o are home to a unique and precious array of cultural, historical and natural resources. 

Between the significant cultural sites of Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau to the south and the Hikiau Heiau to the north lies the site of the Battle of Moku‘ohai, fought in 1782, which was a key battle in the early days of Kamehameha I’s effort to conquer the Hawaiian Islands. Here, the opposing armies of Kamehameha and his cousin Kiwalao skirmished for seven bloody days, with victory going to Kamehameha when Kiwalao was slain on the 8th day. Many of the fallen warriors were buried on the battlefield so this area is dotted with burial platforms, surviving the ravages of time, grazing cattle and invasive vegetation. 

Linking the two ancient coastal communities is a system of well-trodden ancient pathways that are now part of the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail. Several mauka-makai trails are also currently being restored by dedicated volunteers. The two sheltered bays – Hōnaunau and Kealakekua – and the pristine waters along the coast that connect them were bountiful sites for the practice of lawai‘a, traditional fishing.

Forming a curving, protective arm embracing the waters of Kealakekua Bay, the 600-ft. tall cliff is known as Pali Kapu o Keōua, the sacred cliff of Keoua. Here is where the bones of Keōua Kalanikupuapaikalaninui Ahilapalapa, the father of Kamehameha I, were laid to rest after his death in the mid-1700s. At the northwest base of the cliff lay the village of Ka‘awaloa, where Capt. Cook met his fate in 1779, while Hikiau Heiau sits at the end of the road in the village of Napo‘opo‘o.   

Keoua Hōnaunau Canoe Club is proud to host its Annual Mac-A-Thon 5K and 10K race on the road between Hōnaunau and Napo’opo’o. We hope to instill appreciation and respect for this beautiful and significant cultural landscape for the benefit of future generations.  

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I Ku Mau Mau

I Ku Mau Mau – Chant
Alaka’i: I ku mau mau

Pane: I ku wa

Alaka’i: I ku mau mau
I ku huluhulu
I ka lanawao

Pane: I ku wa

Alaka’i: I ku lanawao

Pane: I ku wa
I ku wa huki
I ku wa ko
I ku wa a mau
A mau ka eulu
E huki e

Leader: Stand up together

Response: Stand and shout

Leader: Stand together
Haul with all your might
Under the mighty trees

Response: Stand at intervals

Leader: Stand up among the tall forest trees

Response: Stand at intervals
Stand at intervals and pull
Stand at intervals and haul
Stand in place and haul
Haul branches and all
Haul now
Stand up

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Keoua’s Boys 16

Keoua Boys 16

Keoua’s 16 yr. old boys during the State Championships in Kaneohe, circa 1978. Front row: Kelly Losalio, Dennis Andrade, Byron Kukua, Coach Calvin Kelekolio. Back: Billy Mitchell, David Serafin, Leonard Moses, Jamie Newlon.

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Molokai Hoe ’81

Keoua Molokai Crew '81

This is Keoua’s ’81 Molokai Hoe crew & supporters at Hale o Lono after rigging our canoe, Keoua Elua!

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Hale o Ho’oponopono

Hale o Ho'oponopono

Hale o Ho’oponopono founders & staff, 1975- Renwick “Joe” Tassell, Lloyd Nekoba, Boots Matthews, Eli Nahulu, Dixon Enos, and Herk Kawainui Kane. Along with Tutu Clara Manase, Uncle Abraham and Auntie Lily Moses, Calvin Kelekolio, Andrew and Momi Coito, and others, they were instrumental in forming Keoua Honaunau Canoe Club as an adjunct of the alternative high school in Honaunau Bay. Our young club’s roster was made up of a wide cross-section of the South Kona community- Alu, Hooper, Deguair, Gaspar, Carter, Cho, Kalili, Kiwaha, Alani, Delaries, Naihe, Mitchell, Ku, Pua, Kamoku, Thompson, Cantiberos, Pali, Grace, Esperanza, Shiraki, Crisafi, Kukua, Medeiros, Kaupiko, Leslie, Cordeiro, Spencer, Lindsey, Kahiwa, Sumida, Casuga, McDaniel, Watai, Mokuohai and others were all part of our early Keoua ‘Ohana.

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President’s Thanksgiving Message

It is now November, and 2013 is winding down rapidly as we approach Thanksgiving, the Christmas holiday season and a new year! We give thanks for all the blessings received, for the health and love of our growing family and friends, for the opportunity to paddle and enjoy the beautiful waters that surround us, for the bounty and abundance of our ‘aina, and for the shared memories and legacy of all the kupuna who came before us and watch over us. We sadly note the passing of two Keouans this year, James Kalili and Nancy Griffith. Our condolences go out to their families and to all those who lost a loved one this year.

Although we may be relatively few in number, our spirit and perseverance will continue to carry us forward in furtherance of our mission: to perpetuate the ancient art and culture of Hawaiian outrigger canoe paddling as traditionally practiced in historic Honaunau Bay, and to promote awareness of Hawaiian culture and its preservation and perpetuation.

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Annual Meeting and Thanksgiving Party on November 30

Please join us in giving thanks for another year of paddling! Our annual meeting is coming up at the end of next month, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

We will also be electing our Board of Directors for the 2014 season. Nominations are now open for the nine directors who will steer our club wa’a through our sacred waters, as we strive to protect and preserve our ‘aina and traditions in our kuleana of Honaunau. We encourage members old and new to take an active role in managing the affairs of our club, so if you’re interested in serving on the Board, please let us know before November 15th, 2013, when nominations will be closed. We’ll be posting more information about board eligibility, responsibilities and the election process soon.

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Pu‘uhonua O Honaunau Cultural Festival 2013

Every year, Keoua Honaunau Canoe Club participates in this beautiful cultural event, by providing canoes and steersmen to take visitors out to experience Honaunau Bay from a seat in an outrigger canoe. This short video shows our canoes in action at this year’s event:


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