NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK (HawaiiNewsNow) - Thousands of people gathered in Manhattan on Sunday to welcome the Polynesian voyaging canoe, Hokulea.
The Hokulea and her crew members were greeted with a traditional ceremony by Native American tribes and New York officials.
"It was a warm and beautiful welcoming by the Native American people," crew member Kalani Kahalioumi said. "Hokulea is here right in front of the World Trade Center and she's happy."
Since Hokulea's departure from Hawaii in May 2015 for the Malama Honua voyage to spread the message of caring for Island Earth, crew members sailed more than 23,000 miles through five oceans. It stopped at 55 ports in 12 countries, all in just the first two years of her journey.
"You walk up and there isn't a bigger juxtaposition between Hokulea and this Freedom Tower and all these buildings here and then to see it next to all these yachts - you pretty much see the end of the spectrums," said former Hawaii resident, Kapena Alapai. "Malama Honua and a Honua for other things but it's been amazing. I cannot I would have ever thought to see Hokule'a in New York City in my lifetime. It's been amazing."
The Hokulea had to dock in New York a day early due to unfavorable weather conditions, but neither the crew nor the people in New York seemed to mind.
"As we see Hokulea here at the North Cove Marina being surrounded by our brothers and sisters, we're just so grateful that here in the Big Apple we can feel the love and compassion and kindness of Mama Hokule'a's impact across the nation," crew member Linda Furuto said.
On Wednesday, pwo (master) navigator and Polynesian Voyaging Society president Nainoa Thompson will make a presentation before the United Nations for this year's World Oceans Day, which has the theme "Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet."
"There's something special that this canoe carries on behalf of our home that I think this world not only respects but needs and so to everybody in Hawaii that made this happen and to the thousands that aren't here and to all those that made the long journey, we're just deeply deeply grateful," Thompson said.
Hawaii News Now will have live coverage of the historic UN visit and Hokulea's other events throughout the week.