“I’m always grateful for being one of the few that was allowed to be there, to be a part of it. I think it’s our turn now to pass on, in what small way, in any way we can what we, what we’ve learned,” says Hōkūleʻa 1976 crewmember, Billy Richards.
“This voyage is not engineered for us guys who have sailed long and found many islands to re-prove ourselves…that’s not what it’s about. We have to assume the role of teaching the young,” says Pwo Navigator, Nainoa Thompson.
“My name’s Jenai Mahina Richards and I’m a crewmember for the Worldwide Voyage. My father is Billy Richards,” says Hōkūleʻa crewmember, Mahina Richards.
“It was a dream come true to sail with my father. He’s been sailing since before I was born. So this has been a part of his life for so long, and it was always something separate from me, I felt…personally. But as I got older, I stared to want to share that more with him. So it was nice to be able to finally do that,” says Mahina.
Billy says that, “I’ve always wanted to share with her, I wanted to go to sea with her. One of the most important portions of it was to sail to Taputapuātea.”
“Taputapuātea kind of represents the origin of a lot of the Pacific island cultures,” says Pwo Navigator, Tua Pittman.
“It’s the epicenter for voyagers, you know like that’s your mecca to reach Taputapuātea,” says Mahina.
Taputapuātea is a sacred temple on the island of Raʻiātea. For hundreds of years it was considered the political and spiritual center of Polynesia.
“For the crewmembers, especially those who are coming here for the first time is to embrace the significance and to connect with their tūpuna. There is a marae that has been dedicated to navigators and sailors, warrior sailors. And they do have a patch of ground that they have made sacred for that reason in remembrance of um, those who have voyaged in the past,” says Pittman.
Mahina says that, “To be there was amazing.”
“Traveling with her, going to, to Taputapuātea… that’s a dream come true for me,” says Billy.
The intimate Hawaiian tradition of placing a child’s piko – or umbilical cord – in a special place afterbirth… creates a spiritual and physical connection between the child and that place forever. For Mahina, this sacred place is Taputapuātea.
“You know, my father, when he brought my piko there he told me all about it when I was younger. So I knew that there was significance there for me. But it wasn’t something, it wasn’t something that I truly realized until I had arrived. And then of course with the voyaging aspect of it and my father being there it brings even more importance,” says Mahina.
Billy says that, “What matters to me most is that she had an awakening, of who I am, who she is and where she came from.”
Hōkūleʻa’s magical ability to change lives truly transcends generations. It changed a father’s life nearly 40 years ago and a daughter’s even today.
Mahina says that, “Anytime that you come in contact with the canoe. Whether you’re greeting her from land or your riding in, she’s a vessel of change. She definitely stirs things up so that change occurs there were things that I definitely learned and it definitely changed my, my view of things and brought to light a lot of things that I didn’t necessarily know about. So, the canoe is definitely life changing.”