Proper respect for the canoe

By Kauila Ho

“It’s important to understand that in the Hawaiian culture, the people were very connected to the elements. The canoe was a way for the Hawaiians to experience all the elements of nature at the same time.

They could experience the earth by being in the canoe because the canoe comes from the earth.

They could experience the ocean/water because the canoe rides on the water.

They could experience the wind and air currents all around the canoe.

It’s important that we have no bad thoughts or feelings when we work on a canoe, touch a canoe or paddle the canoe because these things transfer to the canoe.

The canoe is the ‘kaona‘ or metaphor for the Hawaiians in terms of living on an island. Because what do we have to do to move the canoe forward? The six people have to work together. Living on an island, we are isolated. Hawaii is the most remote location from any landmass in the world. They had to understand that, and really work together as an ohana.

When we say ohana, we don’t just mean immediate family but extended family, such as our canoe club and the whole of the Honaunau community. We work together in the canoe as well as in family and our extended ohana.

These are the things we need to remember when we get in the canoe. We treat it with respect but also be pono. Be pono not only with the canoe but also with the people we’re paddling with. If you have issues with the other people in the canoe, it’s like one person is paddling backwards. That person is then paddling ‘opposite’ everyone else. It’s counter productive.

For the canoe to move forward, we need to work together. All as one. One canoe, one ohana, one community.”