The tools haven’t been returned, and probably won’t ever be. However “Uncle Bobby” Puakea, the master canoe carver in Kaneohe who’s been the victim of theft four times in the past three years, pays no mind.
What he lost to criminals, he’s gained from the community. Donations in the form of money and new equipment have come in since the latest robbery.
"Some have come, have dropped it off and I can use it, that's the bottom line" Puakea said.
He’s also gotten new locks for his storage shed. The housing for one of the locks, which was damaged in the theft, has also been replaced. A friend welded a new, stronger piece for him.
"He used a chain link from one of those big, hefty chains and put it on for me".
What still irks Puakea about the crime is that the crooks didn’t just take from him, but his foundation as well. Many of the tools were used by volunteers and students who came by He’eia State Park to learn the craft from him.
The Puakea foundation has three principles: First is the carving, rebuilding and restoration of canoes. The second principle is the art of paddle making. The third is the reforestation of koa wood.
While the trees have been re-seeded across the state thanks to Uncle Bobby, now his own faith has been re-planted by the community.
"Thank you. That's all I can say, in English. Mahalo in Hawaiian, and may the akua be with you".
For more information on the Puakea Foundation, log on to puakea.org