“At the very core of ʻImi Naʻauao is ʻOhana Waʻa. And I think at the very core of ʻOhana Waʻa are those who started Hōkūleʻa in the 70s. It’s perpetuating, It’s making sure that their legacy continues,” said Pōmai Bertelmann, a crewmember with Makaliʻi.
The annual ʻImi Naʻauao ʻOhana Waʻa Crew Training multi-day event allows canoe crewmembers across the state to collaborate in various canoe training both in and out of the classroom.
“Every island has a different ʻano, every island has a different spirit. and that spirit feeds the collective spirit,” said Bertelmann.
This core value of unity was amplified in this annual training as all crew prepare for potential sailing opportunities in the Worldwide Voyage. With this focus in mind, it was fitting that the training take place at the Marine Education Training Center, where Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia are docked.
“One of the first things we wanted to accomplish was making sure that we could give our crew members time at METC, with Hōkūleʻa [and] with Hikianalia prior to the canoes leaving,” said Bertelmann.
This time of bonding also meant a time to solidify canoe protocol across all crews.
“ʻO nā mea liʻiliʻi, ʻokoʻa paha. akā, e pono ana e like no ka palekana, ka holo pono. no laila, he aʻo like. ʻAʻole e ʻōlelo ana, ʻo kēia ke ala pololei, pololei ʻole. ʻO kēia ke ala like i like ai, i alu like, i lōkahi ka noʻonoʻo, ka manaʻo e holo pono ai ka waʻa. [We need to adhere to a standard protocol. Not saying that one style is better than another, but that we are training as a collective. That way we work and think alike in the upcoming voyage],” said Hokualakaʻi crewmember Kaimana Bacarse.
Crews were also able to physically apply this alu like mindset through fitness training, canoe protocol, sail planning, and safety training, both in and out of the classroom. An opportunity that allowed for mentorship from experienced deep-sea crewmembers.
“All the young people, you see the gleam, the excitement. I think that’s why they asked a lot of the old guys to come back and help with the training, and the organization, sailing. So we can pass it on,” said longtime crewmember Mel Paoa.
“Kēia mau poʻe kūpuna, inā ʻaʻole lākou, ʻaʻole mākou i kēia manawa. Kekahi mea aʻu i hoʻomanaʻo ai, ʻōlelo ʻo ʻanakal Mel, iā mākou e hoʻopaʻa nei i ke kaula. I kēia manawa, maikaʻi ʻoukou, hoʻāʻo ʻoukou me ka makapō me ka nānā ʻole, e pani nā maka, a hoʻāʻo e hana hou. Pūʻiwa ka poʻe, like, hah?! ʻAʻole hiki iaʻu ke ʻike, and den, ʻōlelo ʻo ia, ah, pēlā nō ma ka waʻa i ka pō, me ka makani nui, ʻale nui. Pono e lilo i hoʻokahi. ʻo ʻoe me ka waʻa, he hoʻokahi. [We wouldn’t be here without the original crewmebers, I recall Uncle Mel telling us as we worked on coiling the ropes ʻYou guys are good. Now try with you eyes closed.ʻ We were confused. He said that we will have to do that when it’s night time on the canoe. We have to feel and be one with the canoe],” said Hōkūleʻa crewmember Mahina Hou Ross.
“We’ve been doing ʻImi Naʻauao for 7 years, almost 8. But we made history because there were many collective “a-ha” moments that we had together that will just take us to a whole other, maybe way or standard of doing things when we come together,” said Bertelmann.
“Ke haʻalele, haʻalele mākou me ka pili i ʻoi loa aku ka ikaika kekahi i kekahi [When we leave, we do so with stronger relationships],” said Bacarse.
“We consistently have this distant spirit of love and aloha that transcends everything that we do. That was amplified this weekend, and it empowers and it beholds all of us, it moves all of us,” said Bertelmann.