Community Meeting – Saturday Dec. 5th


Aloha mai kakou!

Keoua Honaunau Canoe Club is initiating the restoration/rebuilding of the traditional hale in Honaunau that was the home of Hale o Ho’oponopono in the 70s. This precursor of the Hawaiian immersion schools came at a time of cultural revival and activism, e.g., the birth of Hokule‘a, the Protect Kaho‘olawe ‘Ohana; and addressed the short-comings of the western educational system in its interactions with and attitudes toward the Native Hawaiian community and culture. With the sponsorship of Kamehameha Schools, and the dedication and efforts of Joe Tassill, “Boots” Matthews, Herb Kane, Clarence Medeiros, Abraham Moses, Diana Aki, Tutu Clara Manase and others, Hale o Ho‘oponopono was born.

On the afternoon of Saturday, December 5th, we are hosting a reunion of former students, staff and friends of Hale o Ho‘oponopono along with community groups and individuals involved or interested in participating with us on this 2-year project. We would like to invite everyone to come share their stories, experiences, and mana‘o as we launch this project with a blessing and informational session. It is our intention to revitalize and enhance the cultural landscape of Honaunau Bay, promote the ongoing stewardship of our ahupua‘a, and provide a holding environment for the practice of cultural education for our keiki, residents and visitors.

The afternoon will begin with a blessing, then several speakers will provide an overview of the project, which will entail a series of hale-building workshops, an apprenticeship component, and an ahupua‘a boundary marker initiative that will gather the mo‘olelo, maps, resources, and histories of our area ahupua‘a. The data compiled will then be available on our website and in educational brochures.

There will also be a talk story session, food and kanikapila while we share our ideas and vision for the future of Honaunau. Please join us in honoring those who came before us and laying the groundwork for a vibrant, community-based cultural learning center.

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Keoua Launches Honaunau Cultural Projects

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 11.02.16 AM

After several years of planning and preparation, Keoua Honaunau Canoe Club has received a grant from the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) for a two-year project aimed at strengthening the Hawaiian cultural landscape of the Honaunau coastal area. ANA, a federal agency under the umbrella of the Department of Health and Human Services, promotes economic and social self-sufficiency by providing discretionary grant funding for community-based projects implemented by indigenous tribes and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Island community organizations.

Upon receiving notice of the award, Senator Mazie Hirono said: “I commend the Keoua Honaunau Canoe Club for its work to strengthen the Hawaiian cultural landscape of the Honaunau area. Creating innovative and culturally appropriate projects such as this one are essential to providing educational opportunities and career pathways for Native Hawaiians.”

During the two-year Honaunau Ola Mau Loa project, a traditional hale halawai at Honaunau Bay, the Hale O Ho’oponopono, will be re-established, involving a hale builder training program for five haumana (interns) that will provide skills towards participants’ eventual certification as Certified Hale Builders, and a series of seven community hale building workshops.

With the generous support of Kamehameha Schools, Hale O Ho‘oponopono was one of the early precursors of the current Hawaiian Immersion schools. In the early 1970s, a number of local kupuna came together and approached Kamehameha Schools with the vision of developing an alternative learning approach that wove Hawaiian cultural studies and activities into an academic curriculum to fill the needs of the many local children who were struggling with the educational system at Konawaena High School. Many were dropouts, homeless, and/or in trouble with authority so Hale O Ho’oponopono became a home where they could air their grievances and resolve their conflicts under the watchful eyes and guidance of kupuna Uncle Abraham & Lily Moses, Tutu Clara Manase, Joe Tassil, Diana Aki, “Boot” Matthews, Dixon Enos, Clarence Medeiros and others.

The students went paddling, fishing and ‘opihi picking, while learning ‘olelo, hula, mele, and hale building, in addition to the standard curriculum required for graduation. They also did volunteer work at Pu’uhonua o Honaunau NHP, learning the history and traditions of this important wahi pana. As a means of getting the South Kona community involved, students, staff and area residents also founded Keoua Honaunau Canoe Club in 1975. All these initiatives gave them the confidence and support they needed to excel at their academic studies, as well as becoming productive members of our Kona community.

The re-established hale halawai, when completed, will create a strong holding environment for the ongoing study and practice of Hawaiian culture, visitor education, protection of our precious lands and water, and the development of culture-based local economies.


The project also involves the implementation of an ahupua’a boundary marker system for the four ahupua‘a between Honaunau and Napo‘opo‘o, modeled after a similar project in Kaneohe on O‘ahu that was carried out by the Ko’olaupoko Hawaiian Civic Club.

The establishment of a Hawai‘i-wide system of marking these traditional ahupua‘a boundaries is widely seen as a very significant step towards educating the public about the ahupua‘a system and how the ancient principles of ahupua‘a management can inform sustainability initiatives today. Through the presence of the highly visible boundary markers and informational brochures and website, the community and visitors will be more aware of and connected to the cultural and natural resources of these ahupua‘a, have access to the history, stories and traditions of each ahupua‘a, and will be more likely to get involved with or be supportive of community stewardship activities that protect these resources.

Rafael Ramirez, Keoua Honaunau Canoe Club president, says, “This project will help ensure that future generations understand the history and cultural significance of our wahi pana, re-creating a traditional environment for educational and stewardship activities.” The project will be implemented with the assistance of ten other community organizations and agencies that will serve as project partners.

For more information about the project, email to





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Hale O Keawe

1886 watercolor by Robert C. Barnfield

1886 watercolor by Robert C. Barnfield

Overlooking Honaunau Bay is the iconic traditional structure Hale O Keawe, now part of Pu‘uhonua O Honaunau National Historic Park. Genealogies and mo‘olelo indicate that Hale o Keawe was likely built either by or for Keawe-i-kekahi-ali‘i-o-ka-moku around A.D. 1700.

At that time, it served as a royal mausoleum, housing the remains of deified high chiefs, whose powerful mana, which lived on with the remains, served to sanctify the Pu‘uhonua.

In 1829 Queen Ka‘ahumanu ordered the removal of the remaining bones and the complete deconstruction of the temple. The platform itself survived until high surf, including at least two tsunamis in 1868 and 1877, caused extensive damage.

Restored in 1966–1967, with additional restoration work done most recently in 2004, the Hale O Keawe and the carved wooden ki‘i that surround it stand as testament to the cultural and spiritual significance of the site. As we paddle our canoes past Hale O Keawe, the juxtaposition of this prominent image of ancient Hawai‘i, and our daily, modern practice of the culture of the wa’a, serves to inspire and encourage our efforts to honor and perpetuate the cultural legacy of Honaunau.

To help tell the story of Hale O Keawe, we looked to the writings of John Papa ʻĪʻI, a 19th century educator, politician and historian and subject of the Kingdom of Hawaii. He became an attendant of Kamehameha I and  a companion and personal attendant to Liholiho, who later became King Kamehameha II. He also served as the general superintendent of Oahu schools, a member of the Treasury Board and the Board of Land Commissioners, and Speaker of the House of Nobles. His series of 1866–1870 articles in the Hawaiian Language Newspaper Ka Nupepa Ku‘ooko‘a were translated and re-published in 1959 and have provided invaluable insights into Hawaiian culture during a period of great significance in the Hawaiian Kingdom.

In his words, “The Hale O Keawe in Honaunau was called Ka-iki-ʻAlealea (The little ʻAlealea,) and was a puʻuhonua. Kaikiholu and Pakaʻalana on Hawaii, Kakaʻe in ʻIao, Maui; Kūkaniloko in Wahiawa, Oʻahu; and Holoholoku in Wailua, Kauaʻi, were also places to which one who had killed could run swiftly and be saved.”

“The person whose writing this is often went about them, including the Hale O Keawe. He has seen this house (hale ʻaumakua iwi) where the bones were deposited, standing majestically on the left (or south) side of Akahipapa.”

“The house stood by the entrance of a wooden enclosure, with door facing inland towards the farming lands of South Kona.”

“The heir to the kingdom entered the Hale O Keawe during his journey around to the various luakini heiau of Kanoa in Hilo, Wahaʻula in Puna, and Punaluʻu in Kaʻū. The journey began in Kailua, thence to Kawaihae and from there on around the island to the Hale O Keawe.“

“The appearance of the house was good. Its posts and rafters were of kauila wood, and it was said that this kind of timber was found in the upland of Napu’u. It was well built, with crossed stems of dried ti leaves, for that was the kind of thatching used.”

“The appearance inside and outside of the house was good to look at. The compact bundles of bones (pukuʻi iwi) that were deified (hoʻokuaʻia) were in a row there in the house, beginning with Keawe’s near the right side of the door by which one went in and out, and going to the spot opposite the door (kuʻono).”

“At the right front corner of the house where the unwrapped bones of those who had died in war, heaped up like firewood. In that pile of bones were the bones of Nahiolea, father of M Kekūanāoʻa. The person whose writing this is saw his own father remove his tapa shoulder covering and place it on a bundle among the other bundles of bones. He must have asked the caretaker about all of them and their names, and they were told to him. That was why he did so.”

“When the writer saw his father doing this he asked, ‘Have we a near kinsman in this house?’ His father assented. There are some people who have relatives in this house of ‘life’, but perhaps most of them are dead. The chiefs were descended from Hāloa and so were their retainers (kauwa kupono). The chiefs were born, such as Lono-i-ka-makahiki and Kama-lala-walu and so on down, and so were the retainers (i.e., the junior members of the family.)”

“After the chief ʻIolani (Liholiho) had finished his visit to the house, a pig was cooked and the gathering sat to worship (hoʻomana) the deified persons there. When that was done, the chief and those who went in with him ate together. After the eating was over, the kapu was removed. The travellers left the Hale O Keawe and sailed by canoe, landing at Kamakahonu in Kailua in the evening. There they met Kamehameha. That must have been in the year 1817.”

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Kawaihae LD Race

Congratulations to all our paddlers for an outstanding performance on Saturday’s long distance race @ Kawaihae. Our Open Koa Women’s crew paddled “Ka’ahumanu” to a First Place in their division and 8th. overall in a field of 30 canoes. Our Open Koa Men followed with a respectable Fourth Place finish in their division; while our Mixed 40s crew paddled our Bradley, “Pae’a”, to a First Place in their division. For all the results go to:

You can also see photos at:

Mahalo Akua for such a beautiful day in the water and to all our paddlers and supporters for all the little things that make it all come together. We now begin the regatta season with the Papa Kimitete Regatta in Kailua on May 16, so train hard and have fun!

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34th Annual Mac-A-Thon Results

Aloha and Happy Easter to all:
You can access the results of yesterday’s race at:
Mahalo to all our sponsors, supporters, volunteers and most of all, the runners, for making this the biggest Mac-A-Thon ever! There are also photos posted at:


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2015 Welcome

Aloha mai kakou!

We extend a heartfelt welcome to all our paddlers, young and old, novice and experienced, as we begin our 2015 season. Our first week of practice began with many familiar and new faces coming together to pule and acknowledge our kupuna, those who came before us and made it imperative for us to malama such a culturally significant and spiritual place. Mahalo Akua for the blessings of ‘ohana, for our health, for the beauty and abundance of our ‘aina, and for the aloha that we share paddling our sacred waters.

Please visit the Join Keoua and About Keoua pages of our website for registration & waiver forms, our 2015 Paddlers’ Handbook, canoe etiquette, history, 2015 race schedule and more!

While training and conditioning for a rigorous competitive schedule –close to 20 races between May and October – we have several other events and activities on our calendar.

First of these is our 34th Annual Mac-A-Thon 5K & 10K Race on Saturday, April 4th in Honaunau. This is one of our major fundraisers and requires the participation of all our members and supporters in soliciting donations for our silent auction, clean-up of the race course between Honaunau & Napo‘opo‘o, preparing individual race packets, race registration & timing, set-up and decoration of our stage area, preparing/serving our delicious pancake breakfast to all entrants, and handing out awards.

At some point before the Mac-A-Thon, we will have a brief, informal blessing of our club’s first canoe, Keoua, which, after more than 40 years of faithful service, was completely restored by our kalaiwa‘a, Kurtis Yamauchi. Our canoes are integral members of our ‘ohana and it is befitting that we honor and care for our distinguished elders.

Keoua, a Malia-class fiberglass canoe, was one of 10 canoes purchased by the County of Hawai‘i in the early ‘70s, and distributed among the various Moku o Hawai‘i clubs. Before 1980, all regattas except the State Races were in fiberglass canoes, so Keoua entered and won many races until 1980, after which all regattas required the use of a koa canoe, and she was from that time used as a practice canoe. So come down to our halau and take a look at a living piece of our club history. Better yet, breathe in the mana she radiates when we take her back out into our waters!

As with all sports, the overall level of paddlers’ fitness and conditioning has improved dramatically over the years. There have also been many changes in paddling styles, race categories & classifications, and canoe design. This year, Keoua will welcome into our fold a new “unlimited class” Makika canoe, currently being built by Tiger Canoes. It will weigh well under 200 lbs. and usher in a new era of competition, so get in shape and work hard for the opportunity to paddle in this canoe. As with all new canoes, there will be a christening and blessing to celebrate its birth.

Fast-forwarding to August 22nd, we will be hosting the 29th Annual Calvin Kelekolio Long Distance Race. Honoring one of our first coaches, this event brings together paddlers from our island as well as guest paddlers from the neighbor islands, U.S. continent and Aotearoa. Complemented with music and our legendary pa‘ina, it is one of the high points on everyone’s race calendar.

We are also raising funds for entering the Pailolo Challenge, 25 miles across the channel between Maui and Moloka‘i, held in mid-September. This event requires much advance planning and expenditure for hotel accommodations, travel arrangements, escort boat and entry fees, so now is the time for interested paddlers to commit and begin working towards this goal.

In addition to this exciting schedule, we have the day-to-day maintenance of our equipment and halau grounds, the collection and sorting of HI-5 recyclables which fund our children’s program, and a pending request to ANA for funds to restore and rebuild the Hale o Ho‘oponopono in our canoe lot near the boat ramp. All of these are an integral part of our stewardship of Honaunau Bay and perpetuation of our cultural legacy, so we welcome and urge you to take an active role in any way you can.

Mahalo for being a part of our Keoua ‘Ohana.

Rafael Ramirez, President and Head Coach

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2015 Louis Kelekolio Memorial Canoe Race Results

Congratulations to the paddlers that competed in the

Louis Kelekolio Memorial Canoe Race

sponsored by Keoua Canoe Club

The results are:

2015PressResultsLouis KelekolioRacePage1

2015PressResultsLouis KelekolioRacePage2

Mahalo to Hawaiian Shotz for posting these results.

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Hau‘oli Makahiki Hou!

Lonoikamakahiki at Hiki'au Heiau, Napo‘opo‘o

Lonoikamakahiki at Hiki‘au Heiau, Napo‘opo‘o

This past weekend, Keoua Honaunau Canoe Club was deeply honored to be part of a profound and historic event in honor of the coming of Makahiki, which begins today.

Makahiki, a four-month observance dedicated to Lono, the deity of agriculture, rain and fertility, is an ancient Hawaiian tradition that has been slowly brought to life again over the past two decades. Beginning in November on the first new moon after the constellation Makali‘i (the Pleaides) becomes visible on the horizon, Makahiki was set aside as a time to celebrate the harvest and play competitive games and sports. It was also a time of reflection and spiritual cleansing. The people and the ‘aina rested and re-energized.

For many Kanaka Maoli and others living in Hawai‘i, this is our time of “Thanksgiving,” rather than the U.S. continental concept based on a convoluted tale about Pilgrims and Indians.

The first Makahiki activities to make a re-appearance in more recent times were the Makahiki games. Serving in ancient times as a way for warriors to stay fit, these games also taught young people to develop skills, speed and quick thinking. Today, many schools and groups have organized annual events focusing on Makahiki games.

Also concurrent with the Makahiki of ancient times was a reverent ceremonial procession around the island, as the chiefs surveyed their lands and received tribute from the people. A ceremonial staff carved with a depiction of Lono was carried from each ahupua‘a to the next, and protocols were performed honoring the chief and the god Lono.

On Hawai‘i Island, residents and visitors observed something a bit unusual going on around our island this past weekend – groups of runners, one carrying a ceremonial carved akua (deity), others following with Hawaiian flags and banners.

This modern portrayal of the ancient Makahiki procession is the Makahiki Pule ‘Aina Holo, a ceremonial relay run circulating the Island of Hawaiʻi following the ancient practice. According to organizer Lanakila Mangauil, “this holo is to give our time, energy, sweat, body, and hā (breath) to lift the consciousness of all towards healing and reminds us to malama our āina and ourselves. It is to reconnect us to our kuleana (responsibility) to malama our kino (body/self) so we can malama our ‘ohana (family), our lahui and our ‘āina.”

After months of grassroots planning, this modern interpretation of the traditional island circumnavigation began in Honoka‘a before dawn last Thursday. Oli (chants) and pule (prayer) were offered, and the carved Lonoikamakahiki staff, adorned with a kapa cloak, was presented.

With the dawn, a new awakening in the hearts and minds of the people of Hawai‘i Island was set in motion.

Members of the Pitt River Nation from California, with a tradition of long-distance running to carry the message of the sacredness of all life, our relationship to all living species, and of the need to maintain the delicate balance that exists between humankind and our Mother Earth, joined Native Hawaiians in this historic event.

Lonoikamakahiki was carried by relay, from one group of runners to the next, through the towns along the highway to Hilo, then climbing until reaching Kilauea Volcano, where the first day’s travels ended at Na Makani Paio campground. On Friday the runners continued past Pahala, Punalu‘u, and Na‘alehu, rounded Waiohinu and ended in Miloli‘i, the “last fishing village in Hawai‘i Nei.” There, they were welcomed by the villagers and members of Pa‘a Pono Miloli’i with traditional chants, hula and a delicious meal to restore their energy and spirit, before retiring for the night.

On Saturday, in the stillness before dawn in Miloli‘i, Lonoikamakahiki boarded a canoe and traveled, with an escort of a second canoe from Miloli’i Canoe Club, north to Ho‘okena, where he was met by three canoes from Keoua Honaunau Canoe Club. All five canoes then traveled together up the coast to Kealakekua Bay, stopping to pay homage in front of Hale o Keawe and ‘Ale‘ale‘a Heiau in Honaunau and offering ho‘okupu at Hiki‘au Heiau in Napo‘opo‘o.

The meeting of the canoes at Ho’okena was itself a historic occasion. The previous weekend, Miloli’i Canoe Club had been officially re-born and celebrated with an ocean festival event that included traditional protocols, paddling races and a joyful pa‘ina. Keoua Canoe Club was especially thrilled at the formation, after many decades, of a new canoe club in Miloli‘i to serve the many children and adults living in this isolated village and its neighboring ahupua‘a– and at the same time strengthening the culture of the wa‘a in Kona Hema (South Kona). As the paddlers in the canoes paddled towards each other, whoops of joy carried across the sparkling morning waters, while youngsters on the shore at Kealia sounded the pu in honor of the occasion.

From Hiki‘au Heiau, Lonoikamakahiki took to the road again, traveling north through Kailua-Kona and reaching Pu‘ukohola Heiau by nightfall. On Sunday, the Holo relay runners continued to Hawi, then through Waimea back to Honoka‘a for closing ceremonies.

All who participated in this sacred and historic journey were blessed with the essence of its healing and uplifting intentions. May the spirit of giving and sharing fill our hearts and guide our thoughts and deeds always.

Eo! Lonoikamakahiki!

Canoes from Miloli‘i and Keoua Canoe clubs meet at Ho‘okena

Canoes from Miloli‘i and Keoua canoe clubs meet at Ho‘okena

Lonoikamakahiki arrives in Kealakekua Bay. Some of these paddlers paddled the entire 27 miles from Miloli‘i.

Lonoikamakahiki arrives in Kealakekua Bay. Some of these paddlers paddled the entire 27 miles from Miloli‘i.

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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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