Hokulea, other canoes sail into Pokai Bay for ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ educational event

“It feels like I’m connected to my roots and being Hawaiian."
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 3:55 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 31, 2023 at 5:48 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaiian voyaging canoe Hokulea sailed to Pokai Bay on Thursday morning as part of special educational event for Waianae Coast students.

The stop comes as crewmembers of the Polynesian Voyaging Society are busy preparing for a four-year journey around the Pacific that starts in June.

Tayden-Marie Stewart, a Waianae High School senior, has seen Hokulea in videos and photos.

But seeing the iconic canoe in real-life is a first.

“It’s kind of once-in-a-lifetime,” said Stewart.

Stewart and other students also saw four other Hawaiian canoes. They learned the ropes and raised the sails on Kiakahi, which sailed in from Keaukaha on Hawaii island.

“It feels like I’m connected to my roots and being Hawaiian. That’s something that’s really big for us,” she said.

Duane Desoto, founder and CEO of Na Kama Kai, helped organize the event ― called Hoakea Mauka to Makai Navigating Our Future.

He says 300 Waianae Coast students came to the two-day event attended by Hokulea crew members, people in the wa’a (canoe) community, several nonprofits and community leaders.

The idea for Thursday’s event sprouted from a recent canoe festival at Hakipuu/Kualoa.

“The youth from the West side connecting with these canoes and very fortunately having Hokulea come right before she takes off for a 4-year voyage, it makes it more pili. It makes it more connected to who they are,” said DeSoto.

Public school students will be going on the voyage virtually.

DOE superintendent Keith Hayashi says events like the one on Thursday help students navigate their lives and he hopes the DOE can can steer toward more seafaring programs.

“It’s an exciting opportunity for our students in the department to engage not only in the technology component and learn but also culturally,” he said.