HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The butterflies have begun stirring in stomachs up at Kamehameha Schools. Friday is the 95th annual song contest.
The theme this year is He Moku, He Kanaka. It's part of an ancient chant that says "Here is Hawaii - an island, a man."
Forty years after the Hokulea's inaugural voyage to Tahiti, the song 'E Mau E' pays tribute to its first navigator, The Micronesian master, Mau Piailug, who taught a new generation of Hawaiians how to find their way by the stars.
"I made the trip to show those people what their ancestors used to know," Mau Piailug once said.
Meanwhile, at the Kapalama campus, the students sing in unison. The power of their particular mele is in the meaning of its words.
And as the students strive for harmony and precision, they are learning their own story.
"We are learning about how our people came to be," said Kamehameha Schools student Kamu Mahalu.
"I think it's pretty amazing that they were able to find their way here," said Taishea Ekamrak, also a Kamehameha Schools student.
"It means a lot to me, actually," said student Kaikea Roe.
That's because it's the ancestors of these students who had the determination to explore from Southeast Asia to Micronesia to Tahiti and beyond, connecting all of Oceania. The Hokulea showed the world that Hawaiians didn't accidentally end up here.
"They came here for a reason. They just didn't sail and end up here on the islands. They knew where they were going and they followed the stars," said Kamehameha Schools student Tyler Smith.
"Hawaiians did great things and the fact that the Hokulea is travelling around this world to this day is something important to our culture because we proved something to the rest of the world that doubts us," said student Kiana Goodwi.
And as the modern voyaging crews chart their way around the globe, this Friday night, these haumana will honor them and the navigator who showed them the way.
Don't miss the musical showdown Friday night on KGMB. The pre-show starts at 6:30 p.m., and the competition starts at 7:30 p.m.