After taking part in proper protocol, Hōkūleʻa, Hikianalia and the crew were prepared to start giving back through a reforestation project in Keauhou, Kaʻū on Hawaiʻi Island.
“I think a lot of times, us as voyagers or surfers or canoe paddlers a lot of people think I’m a waterman or an ocean person. But really it’s that connection from the ocean all the way up to Mauka,” says Haunani Kane, who is a crewmember on Hōkūleʻa.
According to Keauhou, Kaʻū Caretaker of Kamehameha Schools, Iwi Joaquin, it’s only a natural relationship. “It was a good exchange between the two in understanding that our foundation is not only the waʻa but the waʻa is also tied to you know, the ʻāina and without the ʻāina, there is no waʻa.
“Hōkūleʻa is made mostly out of non-native materials even though it’s wooden, non-native materials,” says Nainoa Thompson, Pwo Navigator of Hōkūleʻa. “And there was a vision by others to build a canoe that, that, from the things that come from our ancestral forest.”
In an effort to make sure that native waʻa material is available for future generations, The Polynesian Voyaging Society, ʻOhana Waʻa, Three Mountain Alliance, American Canoe Association, and Kamehameha Schools’ Land Assets Division started a long-time partnership to plant native plants on Kamehameha School’s property, including Koa trees.
“What you start here is yes, a seed for koa, but it’s also the seed of ideas. It’s a seed about responsibility and that responsibility because something that should be a blessed act on our part, and I think the way you make that happen, is to touch the hearts and minds of young children,” says Nainoa. “So, the most important seeds that will be planted, is the idea that will grow into the lives of young children. We’re giving back, were being compassionate, giving, is a joy.”
“So it’s not a one-time thing. And the idea behind planting is that you’re contributing to the whole. Something that’s going to last beyond what you did today, it’s going to benefit everybody,” says Iwi. “Not everybody gets to voyage on the canoe. So this was a way of integrating everybody to be a part of the voyage as well as a part of Mālama ʻĀina.”