After twenty years Nāmāhoe, Kauaʻiʻs own deep sea voyaging canoe, is launched into the ocean, inspiring a new generation of crew members.
John Kruse, original Hōkūleʻa crewmember and co-founder of Nā Kālai Waʻa o Kauaʻi said, “Remind me of Tahiti when we went there all those years ago. The Hōkūleʻa came in, in 1976 and you got that same feeling today. And it’s an accumulation of the last 40 years of my life, 20 years to build this thing and we got to keep going. “
After two decades of dedication, sacrifice, and community hands coming together to build a waʻa that Kauaʻi could call its own, Nāmāhoe, the first Polynesian voyaging canoe to be built on the island in centuries, launched into the ocean for the first time, but not without first gathering ʻohana waʻa from around Hawaiʻi and the South Pacific to conduct proper ceremonies.
Dennis Chun, co-founder of Nā Kālai Waʻa o Kauaʻi, said, “For us that was really important, we’ve always embraced that idea of all the voyaging community being as one community. So it was important to have ʻohana waʻa in the ʻawa ceremony, right as to consecrate to sanctify as you might say, to honor, to respect not just Nāmāhoe, but everybody that is involved, cause they supported us too. They supported us in the past number of years. So the ʻawa ceremony was just for that, just to get everybody together.”
The ceremonies and celebration marked the birth of a waʻa as well as the beginning of a story for Kauaʻi’s community — especially Nāmāhoe’s up and coming crewmembers, eager to explore the possibilities this waʻa will provide for them.
Chun explained, “John and I talked for many years together, what would we do when we finally launched the canoe, right? For myself it was really a bittersweet kind of a thing. It wasn’t just seeing the canoe in the water, for me it was watching these guys. Within the past year or so, it’s the first time that we had time to step away and kind of just watch. Some of them have sea time, some of them don’t have that much sea time, but all of them have the heart, all of them have the willingness to work together and to figure it out.”
Kruse said, “Like yesterday they were trying to stand the mast up and I wasn’t there I was on the shore, but they were trying to stand the mast up when it was put in the water. And then Dennis told me and he goes “You know what, you got to let them do it. They got to do it, they going make the mistakes, they going make their own stories.” And then that’s what this whole thing is about to carry on this part of a legacy where they going take care of this canoe.”
Nāmāhoe crewmember Leilani Josselin said, “This weekend has been a long weekend. Lots of blood sweat and tears literally, but it’s a blessing. Now along with Nāmāhoe in the water we are just beginning the real mission, building the canoe was the easy part, but now we are actually building crewmembers, starting the next generation, and getting ready to set sail farther than our harbor now.”
Kruse said, “These young new crewmembers today they are so amazing and my aloha to them.”
Hoʻomaikaʻi iā ʻoukou e ko Kauaʻi and to the whole ʻohana waʻa for this momentous accomplishment.