KS Maui lāhui welcomes Hōkūleʻa at Honolua Bay

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Photo by Brianne Reformina

The elementary, middle, and high school student body and staff take a trip to Honolua Bay Aug. 18 to welcome the Hōkuleʻa. The senior wāhine stand in chant lines and call out to the Hōkuleʻa.

Hōkūleʻa Worldwide Voyage on YouTube

The Lahaina breeze blew through the open windows of buses filled with Kamehameha Schools Maui students. Traffic guards motioned for buses to turn here and stop there so that eventually, every elementary, middle, and high school student was on his or her way down to Honolua Bay to greet the Hōkūleʻa voyaging canoe and its crew on its recent stop in Maui as part of their extended Mālama Honua voyage.

On Friday Aug. 18, the entire KSM organization, including the k-12 student body, teachers, and staff, took a field trip to Honolua Bay to welcome Hōkūleʻa back from its worldwide voyage, which started in 2014.

Over 20 school buses transported the student body to Honolua Bay, where students stood in lines, in rain and sunshine, ready to chant and looking out to the anchored Hōkūleʻa and Moʻokiha o Piʻilani, Mauiʻs own voyaging canoe.

Poʻo Kula Dr. Scott Parker said that making the trip happen was a real challenge, but he is glad that it turned out to be an experience no one would forget.

Kumu Ekela Kaniaupio-Crozier, KSMʻs Hawaiian protocol facilitator and one of the organizers of the trip, told about how Maui came to be the first stop on the canoe’s inter-island voyage.

Master navigator Nainoa Thompson heard through Captain Archie Kalepa that Uncle Pōmaikaʻi Kaniaupio-Crozier intended to commemorate the return of the Hōkūleʻa by planting an ulu koa, or koa forest. Thompson immediately chose Honolua as the first stop on the Mahalo, Hawaiʻi, Statewide Sail.

Kalepa and Uncle Pōmaikaʻi, Puʻu Kukui Watershed Preserve manager, met with Poʻo Kula Parker to discuss how the school could support Hōkūleʻa’s visit, and they agreed to having the whole KSM haumāna and staff greet and plant koa seedlings.

The Hōkūleʻa originally left Honolua Bay on May 1, 1976 on its maiden voyage to and from Tahiti, and 41 years later, on Aug. 18, it returned to the same spot.

Along with the student body and staff, dozens of community members gathered on the shores, admiring the view and meeting the crew.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I’m glad that [Kamehameha Schools Maui campus] gets to experience it,” academies principal Ms. Jay-R Kaʻawa announced at a high school assembly.

Prepping for the Honolua trip, senior Keʻala Cabanilla and KSM alumnus Joshua Chang went to Seminar and Hawaiian classes to teach students two kāhea to chant to the hui, hālau, and ʻohana.

At Honolua Bay, kula kiʻekiʻe arrived first and stood in lines while kula waena and kula haʻahaʻa made their way down from their bus drop-off spots and hiked in to get to the shore.

During the presentation, Junior Lee-Joseph Franco had the honor of holding a Hawaiian flag with Archie Kalepa, a well-known Maui waterman.

“He told me that he wanted to present the flag to me, and I gladly agreed,” Franco said.

Franco had previously attended the Hōkūleʻa Homecoming on Oʻahu in June, where he had brought his own Hawaiian flag. There, he met ʻAnakala Archie Kalepa, who was riding on a jet ski. Kalepa borrowed the flag and rode in a circle around the waʻa. On the day of the Honolua Bay trip, Franco and Kalepa again met up over the Hawaiian flag.

After several speakers, including Mayor Alan Arakawa and Kahu Kalani Wong, the students were released to eat lunch and wait for the buses to return. They were unable to participate in the koa planting because they ran out of time.

“The point of having to plant at the site was to make the experience so life-changing that you could look back and say, ‘Wow. I got to experience that,'” Poʻo Kula Parker said, but although the huakaʻi didn’t go as planned, Kamehameha Maui enjoyed their opportunity to be there.

“I am beyond proud of our school and how we welcomed the Hōkūleʻa and Moʻokiha o Piʻilani. The kupuna definitely looked upon us and were proud of the kanaka that stood on the shores of Honolua,” Kumu Ekela said.

To find where you can see the Hōkūleʻa next, click here.