For the first time in her history, Hōkūleʻa crossed the Tasman Sea to Australia, successfully navigating across these unfamiliar waters. Hōkūleʻa sailed into the iconic Sydney Harbor and was welcomed to the country by the traditional owners of these lands. Crewmembers were eager to learn more about these people but their presence is almost invisible in this busy metropolis except for Redfern, the only aboriginal community in urban Sydney.
Shane Phillips, a Tribal Warrior Redfern Sydney Aboriginal Tribe leader said that, “This community was going from a place of, a sense of hopelessness for a long time. And that comes from grief, loss from disconnection, and dispossession. The only thing that can beat it is hope; Hope built with routine and built with strong aboriginal people pushing each other to understand their people and make everyone feel proud of who they are.”
Just like our navigators on the waʻa, Shane is a navigator in his community and the Tribal Warrior program that he runs has been a bright spot of hope.
“This program here, that we’ve put together, came from a bunch of young boys from our community who were getting in trouble with robbery. And we had a really bad relationship with the police,” said Phillips. “What we did was put them in a routine program. So the mentors would pick them up, take them and train them with the police. After the first few weeks, the dynamics changed; we started to become friends. In the first few months, 82% dropped in robberies in this area. A simple fact is that these kids started to tell other people about the big things, the strong things about our people. They saw their own worth, and they started to get involved in getting back to learning.”
Crewmembers were invited to join the Tribal Warrior kids for their 6am program. For crewmember Kawika Crivello, the experience with this urban indigenous community offered insight for his own work with youth in his rural island community of Moloka’i.
“Being that I work with children, at-risk kids that we’ll be sharing what we do back home, what we ended up doing was having a two-hour hardcore workout.” said crewmember, Kawika Crivello.
Phillips said, “The boys did really well, the boys did really well. “They pushed themselves really hard and they were really good. They picked it up really quick, they came here to watch, and they couldn’t help themselves, they had to get involved.”
Crivello said, “What I saw today, from Shane, is that within his community, and after speaking to him, that he looked at his community and that he wanted to be part of this solution. He wanted to make a change. It confirmed that it’s important as a leader to have that relationship, to build that relationship with a child, to have that trust. And in order to do that, it takes a special someone to have that engage with the children, to have them, come out and give you their energy. That’s what I took, that he formed that relationship that base, that foundation. And after meeting him, I’m energized to take that home, to have that energy, to be that engaged with the kids. Ao it definitely inspired me.”
In return, the crewmembers inspired the youth with their voyage around the world and its message of Mālama Honua.
“We tell all the kids about thousands of years of strength. And then we talk about other nations, we talk about indigenous people all over the world,” said Phillips. “We saw the light come on here today with these children. And when they knew that it was another indigenous nation doing the circumnavigation through navigation, through nature, through currents and winds, they saw that connection. That connection is so important to us.”
Crivello noted, “When we go to these places on Hōkūleʻa, it is not just the literal things of mālama honua. It’s not just something that we put on a t-shirt, it is something that is action. It is something that we live, it is something that when we come off the waʻa, that we engage in, and that we truly live, and be active in our community, and that in itself is mālama honua, in what each of us can carry off the waʻa and into our communities, to put it into action.”