“So today was the launching of our canoe, that was part of a project called, Connecting Oceanic Pathways, Walking the Stick of our Ancestors, and the project really came about in trying to honor Mau Piailug and his contributions to Hawaiʻi and his wish that we make one people across the Pacific. And so, through this project, we were able to have his son, Eseluqupi Plasito be our master carver and bring people together to build this canoe,” said Bonnie Kahapea-Tanner, Executive Director of the Kānehunamoku Voyaging Academy.
“Kahapea, she asked me to make another canoe so the Hawaiian people, they can come and learn,” mentioned Eseluqupi Plasito, canoe builder and son of the late Pius Mau Piailug.
Kahapea-Tanner stated, “Over the course of just a little over three months, we were able to bring together over seven-hundred people, from small children all the way up to the elders of the Hawaiian community and also the Micronesian community. One of the big goals was just to create an understanding and a respect for each others’ cultures and also to understand that, for us as Hawaiians, the Micronesian community is migrating into Hawaiʻi and for us to learn better ways of how to reach out to them and make connections.”
“Pacifc Islands, you are one. This is what brought us together. Culture is one way of life for us and we are one. Thank you very much for accepting Papa Mau into your community and we hope this goes on and on. Now that he is gone, just wanna ask, please remember us. Thank you very much,” mentioned Chief Justo of Pulap, Chuuk during the ‘awa ceremony.
Poʻokela Stephens, a student volunteer in the program, expressed that, “seeing everybody enjoying themselves is like how I see waking up every morning, it’s one blessing it’s just wonderful to see everybody come in on there as one, having big barbeques, everybody talking story, just having a good ‘ol time and enjoying the launch of the Micronesian canoe, from Plasito.”
“As soon as it uh, the waʻa hit Kanaloa, the wind just picked up and it went whop! It was just an amazing feeling, just to see, from what we saw, as a log, to something that’s out in the ocean that can help educate and share and teach,” describes Kamuela Bannister, program coordinator for KUPU CommunityU.
Plasito explains, “the name of the Canoe is Elleen Eoreni. That means she’s the road to the culture, yea.”
“It was really neat to see the different ethnic backgrounds of our youth and the different cultures come together and, uh, able to share and learn. I think throughout all that process, and finally coming here today they realize how big home is. Home is here, but home is also the Pacific and uh, I think they understand that, you know, the ocean connects us all together,” emphasized Bannister.
“I think from projects and collaborations like this, that bridge cultures, um, only good things can come from that and so we’re really looking forward to the future, and also creating more programs where we can bring Micronesian and Hawaiian youths together,” exclaims Kahapea-Tanner.