For thousands who attended Hokulea homecoming, a moment of pride, chicken skin and aloha

Updated: Jun. 17, 2017 at 10:41 AM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

By Victoria Cuba and Pono Suganuma
HNN Summer Interns

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -- They started gathering well before dawn. Thousands from across the state crowded into Ala Moana Beach Park on Saturday to watch Hokulea make its return to Oahu after a three-year, round-the-world voyage.

"It's such an important day for us," said Moanikeala Nanod-Sitch, who watched the homecoming with her church and family. "We wouldn't miss it.  It's a blessed day. It's a day where we can stand, remembering the lineage of our kupuna."

Nanod-Sitch brought wooden horns or puu ohe to blow as the vessels come in. By blowing the horns, Nanod-Sitch said they do so to show their respect and love to the crew.

"It resonates," she said. "Just to say we are here and we celebrate you."

For some people, this is not the first, but the second time they will celebrate and welcome the wa'a ashore.

As Kamehameha student, Leikuluwaimaka Meleisea was one of the delegates who greeted Hokule'a and Hikianalia in Tahiti.

"It was an amazing experience, a very humbling feeling," Meleisea said. "To welcome her back in her own waters, it's just nothing but aloha."

Protect Kaho'olawe Member, Kalama Chock was dressed in native malo and kihei. Chock said Hokulea's arrival is not just an event for the people or lahui, but also it represents the strength of the Hawaiian people.

"Now, in 2017, we have an 'ohana of wa'a," Chock said. "Our lahui is here to celebrate that, to celebrate the growth and the movement forward of the wa'a."

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