Educational Outreach Tongatapu

Educational Outreach Tongatapu

“The kids’ favorite station when they come to the canoe is the canoe. I think we’ve always said, and we know from personal experience, that the canoe is the hook, the experience on the canoe is the hook,” said Hōkūleʻa crewmember Pomai Bertelmann.

“The kalia I think for a lot of these these children is something that has been a little esoteric, something that they canʻt necessarily imagine. Then you have these two canoes from Hawaiʻi pull into port, and then you talk to them about the distances that they’ve traveled and where they’ve come from, and they really, really light up.  So we’ve been able to work with thus far about 120 students that have come with the canoes, but also other community members that have come down already.  You can see, and you especially feel that we recognize and they recognize that the canoe is a common strand between people,” said Pomai.

“For many of these communities we’ve visited, the students and even some of the adults, had not seen a waʻ a kaulua, a voyaging canoe, and it shocks them and inspires them. It’s something that engages them and even dreaming about what that past might have been. It’s a pretty amazing thing. To have them spend that time in this sort of structured educational environment, talking about the earth, talking about the ocean, talking about Mālama Honua, I feel like it strengthens our crewmembers commitment to the voyage. But also it’s a way for students to see themselves as a reflection of that crewmember perhaps,” said Miki Tomita

“They were all very inspired by the fact that we cross deep oceans, and they wanted to know how we find the courage to do that. And one of the things that I talked to the aunties about is that all of us have that in us. And that we shouldn’t let fear get into the way of achieving something that seems impossible,” said Miki.

“So I think for these young men and women who come from these islands, it is essential that we start to look at spending time back on the ocean again.  One, so we can build that mental and physical and spiritual wellness, but also so we can start to refamiliarize ourselves with our brothers and sisters who live in various parts of the Pacific. ʻSo what station did you like the most,ʻ and they will point to or say ʻwakaʻ or ʻwaʻa.ʻ So again, itʻs the canoe and the magic of the waʻa that inspires and speaks to the heart of people,” said Pomai.

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