Hōkūleʻa Crewmember, Kaʻiulani Murphy says that, “Kahoʻolawe is part of our pae ʻāina and one of our really sacred sites, because of the connection with voyaging for one; Kealikahiki, the channel, and Kealaikahiki, the point. So whether it means the pathway to Tahiti or the pathway from Tahiti, the island Kahoʻolawe is the piko of our main Hawaiian islands between Hawaii and Niʻihau, where latitude wise it’s at the center; which makes it a great spot for navigators to train. The Waʻa ʻOhana made a commitment to continue this relationship and connection to the island, and use it as a school for navigation, so for many reasons it was important that we do bring the canoes back to Kahoʻolawe.”
“At Puʻu Moaʻulaiki is the second highest spot on the whole island, and the traditions tell us that that was a place of navigation training. They would study the stars, have access to the elements around them, they could see five islands around them, the currents, the channels, around…and that’s where the early stages of training for navigators took place. So, it’s very important that the navigators, that the folks that are, ʻohana waʻa – the folks that are connected to the voyaging canoes – have a chance to learn some of the moʻolelo and come up to Moaʻulaiki, and really feel what that’s all about.” says Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana member, Kim Kuʻulei Bernie.
Pwo Navigator, Shorty Bertelmann says that, “for me, my first time here, wow, I come to the site as a student. This is something I always wanted to do, you know kind of like a bucket list… I’m glad I’m able to witness for myself, and sit here and feel the, feel the spirit. It has been real awesome for me.”
Kim Bernie says that, “At Kealaikahiki, there’s evidence that there was a star compass there. From the lae out there, from the point, it juts out a little bit so that you can… when you are out there, you can see both due North and due South on the water. You have to be familiar with the elements on the water, at sea level, so that vantage point at Kealaikahiki, where you have due North, you have due South, you can line them up with the rocks.”
“Right next to the site is everything that happened, whatever in the past. But the site is still there…that’s what I bring home from my experiences. The site is still there. You know, sometimes you look at great things and they’re measured by their ability to survive through time. So time is usually always the test.” says Shorty Bertelmann.