Makaliʻi: Sustaining A Voyage Solely On Locally-Sourced Food

Jun 13, 2019

The double-hulled canoe Makali'i off the coast of Waikiki as it made its way from Kawaihae on Hawai'i Island to O'ahu.
Credit Na Kalai Waa

The deep-sea voyaging canoe Makaliʻi sets sail today for the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Organizers say this is the first voyage in modern times to be provisioned entirely with food grown, harvested, and prepared by the crew’s supporters.

The double-hulled canoe Makaliʻi is jam-packed with enough food to last its crew a month at sea – and all of it was produced on the Big Island, where the crew members started their journey last week. 

“We’ve got everything that you would probably eat at a lūʻau,” said Senior Captain and Master Pwo Navigator Chadd ʻŌnohi Paishon. “Of course, like kalo. We have ‘uala. We have ‘ulu.”

All of this effort was in the service of learning to be self-sustaining and encouraging the community – including friends, family, and supporters – to look beyond the voyage.

“If you can provision the canoe, then start to provision home,” said Paishon. “That in case those ships donʻt come for some reason, we’ll be okay, we’ll be fine.”

Paishon said community members were encouraged to look at the resources available to them.

“Some of our families from Kona side are coffee growers. We still have cattle around so some families prepared stew meat,” said Paishon. “So everything that’s on the canoe is locally-grown, even down to our spices. So we didn’t go to the store to buy our salt or pepper -- it was all collected.”

Over the past three years, community members and several Big Island schools grew vegetables, raised chicken, and even learned to preserve food by canning, freeze-drying and dehydrating.

For crew members, meal times are when they all get together.

“It’s a great morale booster, and especially when you have foods that are so ‘ono, that you’re maʻa to...,” said Paishon, meaning it’s what you’re used to eating at home.

The voyage to Papahānaumokuakea is an opportunity to train a younger generation of seafarers.

Paishon said when they step off the deck of the canoe and return home to their communities, it's "with a greater sense of responsibility to the place that you call home.” says Paishon. “Because that place is what allowed us to do what we do on the deck of the canoe.”

The crew plan to return in early July -- enriched by the experience and nourished by a supportive community.