Hokulea leaves wave of controversy

Pauline Sato
Pauline Sato
Nainoa Thompson
Nainoa Thompson

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

SAND ISLAND (KHNL) - The Hokulea has taken some media hits from the political wrestling over the controversial $410 billion spending bill.

In it are earmarks under political fire, including money carved out for the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

It's been slammed on national TV.

On NBC Nightly News, a reporter called the Hokulea a 'canoe tour'. On CNN, Lou Dobbs said, "$238 million for Polynesian voyaging...this is the kind of nonsense."

"People who are saying that truly don't understand what it's all about," said Hokulea crew member Pauline Sato, "it's much more than just having fun in a canoe. It's training to perpetuate the ancient culture of Polynesian voyaging which was almost lost, and it could easily be lost again if new generations of people aren't trained to do that."

"I don't expect Congress to understand what the Hokulea has done. But what really troubles me is when I heard about the misrepresentation that Hokulea's existence and purpose is to create canoe tours for rich people. That's far from the truth, said Nainoa Thompson, Executive Director of the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

Crew members say Hokulea is more than just a voyage, it's a journey to keep this piece of ancient Hawaiian history alive.

"When someone misrepresents us this way, to me it's disrespectful, and I stand for the canoe and its work and all the people behind it," said Thompson.

The spending bill is now just a signature away from approval.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Senate voted in favor of the measure.

President Obama is expected to sign it on Wednesday.