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Hōkūleʻa: Homecoming Reinvigorates Voyaging Community, Readies Fleet

Momentum is building following Hōkūleʻa’s Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage. On Saturday, tens of thousands of people turned out to welcome the canoe home from its three-year around-the-world voyage. And that includes some who took part in that journey.

HPR’s Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi spoke with one family whose life was changed by their experiences with Hōkūleʻa.

When 33-year-old Pua Lincoln-Maielua got the call to crew the homecoming leg of the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage, she didn’t expect it. Her last sail was 10 years ago.  

"To have a family, and to have a kane, and to have a mortgage, all these different things, different kuleana, you know? And to leave keiki behind. It actually was even harder for me to leave my parents this time, because I totally got it – what it meant as a parent to say goodbye," Lincoln-Maielua said.

Pua Lincoln-Maielua, second from left, aboard Hōkūleʻa for the last leg of the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage

A husband and three children later, Lincoln-Maielua set sail from Tahiti with just a couple thousand miles left to complete the Worldwide Voyage and bring Hōkūleʻa home.

She and her fellow crew members are the next generation of voyagers, and on this trip, they were eager to “pull Hawaiʻi from the sea” as the ancient saying goes.  The wisdom of experience shared by Pwo Navigator Bruce Blankenfeld was patience.

The view from Hōkūleʻa as the crew spots the Hawaiian Islands for the first time on the last leg of the Worldwide Voyage.
The view from Hokule'a as the crew spots the Hawaiian Islands for the first time on the last leg of the Worldwide Voyage.

"He said, 'Let the island come to you. Let the island come to you.' And she did, and when she came to us, actually Haleakalā came to us first. We could see her in the distance, and that was the first time in 42 years of this canoe sailing that the island was actually spotted before lights," Lincoln-Maielua said.

Every one of the 245 crew members who took part in the three-year voyage has their own story to tell of their unique bond or pilina to Hōkūleʻa.

"To be able to sail her I was able to create my own pilina to her which to me is very special. Now I can really share that with my keiki," Lincoln-Maielua said.

When the crew sailed Hōkūleʻa into Lincoln-Maielua’s home port of Kawaihae, there were no flashy welcome home signs. In fact, her community was busy taking the traditional voyaging canoe Makaliʻi out of the dry dock.

Credit Pua Lincoln-Maielua

"Makaliʻi was being moved to come down to Kawaihae, so my husband was not down at the dock. Neither were my children because they were waiting for him."

Makaliʻi was built in Lincoln-Maielua's hometown of Waimea in 1995, and it is the waʻa used to perpetuate the traditions of navigation in her community. Her husband Kealiʻi Maielua is Makaliʻi's newest captain. 

"I was OK because there’s only one other woman I’ll wait for and that’s Makaliʻi."

Makaliʻi had been in dry dock for the past three years. The Worldwide Voyage was a call to action for ‘ohana waʻa across the island state to prepare those waʻa for Hōkūleʻa's homecoming.

Credit Kuuwehi Hiraishi
Kaua'i's Namahoe, Maui's Mo'okiha O Pi'ilani, Hawai'i's Makali'i, and O'ahu's Hawai'iloa docked at Kalia for Hokule'a's homecoming.
Hōkūleʻa returns to Hawaiʻi in 2017.
Credit Kuuwehi Hiraishi
Hōkūleʻa returns to Hawaiʻi in 2017.

Moku O Keawe’s Makaliʻi was joined by Kauaʻi’s Nāmāhoe, Maui’s Moʻo Kiha o Piʻilani, and Oʻahu’s Hawaiʻiloa, to officially welcome Hōkūleʻa at Kālia on homecoming day.  

"To see Hawaiʻi welcome her like this, just pā ka naʻau. It was all well worth it. Hōkūleʻa was not forgotten and she never will be now," Lincoln-Maielua said.

Credit Kuuwehi Hiraishi
Keali'i "Bebe" Maielua & Pua Lincoln-Maielua with their three sons (L-R) Kumano, Akaulaakeawe, and Keakamahana.

As voyage organizers begin to assess the global impact of Mālama Honua, the impact back home and across the island chain is a re-energized sense of kuleana or responsibility to keep the traditions of navigation alive.  

"Every mile out there was for my keiki. It was really to strengthen our practice as an ‘ohana, so that I could come home and I could share that with them, so that we could continue to live it."

Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi is a general assignment reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Her commitment to her Native Hawaiian community and her fluency in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi has led her to build a de facto ʻōiwi beat at the news station. Send your story ideas to her at khiraishi@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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