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Hokulea's three-year voyage officially ends in Kualoa – where it all began

Updated: Jun. 22, 2017 at 4:28 PM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hokule'a's homecoming has been named "Lei Ka'apuni Honua" – a lei around the world. It's a fitting tribute given that the voyaging canoe has come full circle, which is why all her journeys begin and end on the shores of Hakipu'u in Kualoa, where Hokule'a first launched in 1975.

"It's a special day, especially because Hokule'a is home in her birth place, and this is such an appropriate place to celebrate the coming home of Hokule'a,"  said Hokule'a navigator Ka'iulani Murphy.  "It just makes me happy that Hokule'a is here and to be able to be a part of the celebrating with our crew, our teachers, honoring our founders and just being welcomed by the 'ohana of this place."

Thursday's private ceremony was meant to honor Malama Honua's 300 volunteer crew members and the greater 'Ohana Wa'a.

"Today is kind of that sigh of relief, and now we get to spend the day with all of our families down here and to see Hokule'a and Makali'i here where she was birthed, where Hokule'a was first launched into the water," said apprentice navigator Haunani Kane. To be here now and to see this and to see all the people that have come to help celebrate voyaging and our people, it's really amazing."

The traditional ceremony – complete with 'aha 'awa and 'aha 'aina – marked an end to the international portion of the Hokulea's Worldwide Voyage and paid tribute to those who made her epic journey around the world possible.

"Thank you crew for leadership, the love and compassion you showed each other, the respect and dignity you gave to all native people on the Earth," said an emotional Pwo navigator and Polynesian Voyaging Society President Nainoa Thompson. "To the families of our crew members, thank you for your support. Without you we couldn't do it," said an emotional Pwo navigator and Polynesian Voyaging Society President Nainoa Thompson.

Those who've been a part of Hokule'a's journey from the very beginning say the accomplishments of Malama Honua are proof Hawai'i's voyaging future is bright.

"40 years ago, we had no idea it was going to come this far, so today is a celebration of many aspects, many realms of what happened to get us this far," said Pwo navigator Milton "Shorty" Bertelmann, who is one of the 1976 crew members on board Hokule'a's maiden voyage to Tahiti. "We're very impressed with the talent of the young ones and the enthusiasm and where our culture is now compared to where it was before."

So where does Hokule'a go next? First, to dry dock. The canoe is in need of some TLC after nearly 42 years of sailing and more than 200,000 nautical miles of voyaging.

Later this fall, she'll return to the water for a  statewide sail to mahalo and malama Hawai'i, with stops in 30 ports and at least 100 different neighborhoods.

PVS officials say it's an opportunity for Malama Honua crew members to share the experiences of the Worldwide Voyage, but also to listen and learn about where the wa'a should go next.

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