After months of anxiously following the Mālama Honua crews’ journey to Aotearoa the 2,500 students of the Manaiakalani School Cluster welcomed Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia to their community at Pt England Beach near Auckland, New Zealand.
“We open the year with stories about the wakas, the journeys, the amazing navigators they are, how they use the stars as maps. To actually see them in the flesh and in the form that it was today just confirms that we’re not telling stories, that it’s true. And so they can really kind of be proud of themselves” said Andrea Telea, a teacher at Pt. England School.
Equally excited was the delegation of Hawaiʻi’s education leaders who sailed in alongside Mālama Honua crewmembers aboard Hikianalia.
“When we came to shore and we heard the children, I was inspired, I was in awe. I felt so deeply how strong they are, how smart they are, how beautiful they are, how much pride they have in their country and their culture” said Kathy Matayoshi, Superintendent of the Hawaiʻi Department of Education.
“This is just amazing. A wise man told me two days ago that this might be the epic day of the entire voyage and I think I believe him. Iʻm looking forward to spending the rest of the day here with the kids and the teachers and the school” said David Lassner, President of the University of Hawai’i System.
“Today is the day that we learn from you. Today is a day that we learn the possibilities, and the opportunities, and the creativity, and the innovation when you link tradition to technology and science and you link it so that your school Manaiakalani may be in the heavens, but at the same time you bring it down to us. I know all of us will go home with the gift of you” said Pwo Navigator, Nainoa Thompson.
Following the ceremony, the education leaders visited Pt England School to observe classrooms, engage in discussions with fellow administrators and educators from Aotearoa, and to learn more about the Manaiakalani School Cluster.
Just as Hōkūleʻa is guided by the stars, the Manaiakalani schools draw inspiration from the legend of Maui-tikitiki-a-tāranga and his journey to Aotearoa in which he used the Manaiakalani constellation to navigate. The schools have adopted Mauiʻs sense of innovation in their teaching and learning practices.
“Maui combined ancient wisdom with high-end Polynesian tech, the waka hourua, and the navigational technology because thatʻs technological understanding if you would like. Ancient wisdom applied to new technology equals fantastic opportunity and future and a happy outcome, an outcome of enormous endurance of incredible epic proportions” said Russell Burt, Principal of Pt. England School.
“If you walk around the school, it’s infused everywhere. There is nothing that they are doing that isn’t touched by technology. So it’s not traditional vs. modern. It’s using modern and traditional together to prepare these kids for the future” said Lassner.
“I loved seeing our teachers coming here to be inspired and then saying I’m going to take this back and I’m going to figure out how I can make this real for my students in my classroom” said Matayoshi.
The day proved to be enriching for both the education leaders and the children of Manaiakalani.
“We all feel it was an incredible success. Everybody feels very blessed, everybody is very happy. Everybody is very respectful of the way that the Hawaiian people were prepared to do this. There’s a huge sense of humble gratitude among our people” said Burt.