Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Voyaging Again

Aloha & Welcome to Waikiki!
click on photos to enlarge
"The arts are not just a nice thing to have or to do if there is free time or if one can afford it. Rather, paintings and poetry, music and fashion, design and dialogue, they all define who we are as a people and provide an account of our history for the next generation."
Michelle Obama

I wandered lonely as a cloud

“Memories are the treasures that we keep locked deep within the storehouse of our souls, to keep our hearts warm when we are lonely.”
Becky Aligada

“The world is sweet in the heart, and green to the eye-”

The name should come in a dream.

It did, he heard it twice. But he could not remember it.

It was Saturday night, and the blessing and launching were occurring the very next day. So school teacher Milton John Coleman of Halau Lokahi (Unity School) Charter School here on O`ahu, prayed for guidance.

Soon his two year old son said: "Makaiouaua." Then he wouldn't stop repeating it in the way of little kids; "Makaiouaua, Makaiouaua, Makaiouaua."

Ouaua is the area in Kalihi Valley where the tree came from. The tree that they used to form the hull of the open ocean sailing canoe; the canoe that the school's children had helped to build.

Makai (to the sea) Ouaua. Seems proper.

Voyaging in sailing canoes is how the first Hawaiians came to these islands. Navigating by the stars, by the observed sea & sky conditions, was the way they did it.

These skills were long considered lost, until a man named Mau Piailug was found on Satawal island where he lives in Micronesia. It was he who taught the ancient skills to modern Hawaiians. They have been teaching each other, their youth, and the world ever since. The voyaging resumed again back in the 1970's for the first time in centuries, on board the Hokule`a

The children of the charter school launched their own dream of building such a traditional canoe 3 years ago.

They chose to use a non-native species, albizia, for the hull. Thus they helped to restore a native eco-system in the mountains near their school. Instead of hauling the tree to the dump, it was turned into this most Hawaiian of cultural artifacts. Adapting the foreign and making it their own is part of the genius of the Hawaiians. Iolani Palace had electric lights before the White House did!

You can read a local newspaper account of the canoe, as well as enjoy a slide-show of the launching here:

Note especially the traditional woven sail, sent by Mau all the way from his Satawal island home.
Imagine the pride these kids feel as they replicate the feats of their ancestors. We are all richer for this renaissance.
A L O H A! Cloudia