Hokuleʻa — The Revival Begins: Virtual presentation covers Polynesian Voyaging Society’s formative years

  • McInerny

  • Richards

  • Baybayan

  • Kruse

  • Piʻianaiʻa

  • Ah Hee

  • To celebrate ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center’s 13th annual Wayfinding event, ‘Imiloa and the Ama Olukai Foundation will present a live virtual talk story session on the history of the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s formative years, Hokuleʻa: The Revival Begins, 1975-1980. The presentation showcases the formative years of the Polynesian Voyaging Society leading up to the iconic voyaging canoe, Hokuleʻa. (Courtesy photo/Special to West Hawaii Today)

To celebrate ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center’s 13th annual Wayfinding event, ‘Imiloa and the Ama Olukai Foundation will present a live virtual talk story session on the history of the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s formative years, Hokule‘a: The Revival Begins, 1975-1980. This presentation showcases the formative years of the Polynesian Voyaging Society leading up to the iconic voyaging canoe, Hokule‘a.

A panel of select crew members will share their remarkable stories and unprecedented experiences associated with the formative years of the Polynesian Voyaging Society leading up to the birth of the iconic voyaging canoe, Hokule‘a. The panel of five presenters are Capt. Gordon Pi‘ianai‘a, Billy Richards, John Kruse, Snake Ah Hee and Kalepa Baybayan. Executive Director Dan Mclnerny, of the Ama Olukia Foundation, will introduce and moderate the presentation.

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Given the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19, this year’s Wayfinding celebration will be in the form of a free live virtual presentation followed by Q&A set for 4 to 5:30 p.m. Oct. 23.

“The Ama Olukai Foundation has been a proud sponsor of Imiloa’s annual Wayfinding celebration for the past several years and we are happy to continue our support of this important cause,” said McInerny. “Our mission is to partner with organizations that honor Hawaiian culture and traditions by preserving the ocean and land, and Imiloa is an incredible resource for our community that does just that.”

The foundation supports programs that are designed to serve Hawaiian communities, partnering with organizations that promote the Hawaiian culture from its ancestral past to present day.

Pi‘ianai‘a is a geographer and an educator. He was the director of the Hawaiian Studies Institute at Kamehameha Schools and a retired naval officer. In 1976, ‘80 and ‘85 he served as captain on board Hokule‘a. Pi‘ianai‘a has a strong personal and spiritual connection to Hokule‘a and hopes that more people become involved with the Polynesian Voyaging Society and deep sea voyaging. Pi‘ianai‘a craves nothing while at sea; he only craves being at sea while back on land.

Richards is a community servant who serves as a member of the ‘Aha Kane, a Native Hawaiian Men’s Health Program, the Bishop Museum Association Council, the Friends of Hokule‘a and Hawai’iloa, Kanehunamoku Voyaging Academy, and Maiden Voyaging Productions. He was elected to the Bishop Museum Board of Directors and also serves as the Hui Nohona administrator for the Partners in Development Foundation, a public not-for-profit company that supports Native Hawaiian communities through social and educational programs. He has been an integral part of Hawaii’s voyaging community since 1975 and has voyaged aboard Hokule‘a, Hawaiiloa, Makali‘i, Hokualaka‘i, and Hikianalia throughout the Pacific and around the world.

Kruse was introduced to Hokule‘a when she was only two hulls and cross pieces still being lashed together. Kruse began helping with the construction of Hokule‘a under master craftsmen Wright Bowman and Wally Froiseth. He was selected as a crewmember on Hokule‘a’s maiden voyage to Tahiti in 1976 and later went on to co-found Kauai’s voyaging society Na Kalai Wa‘a o Kauai. His leadership on Kauai led to many helping hands that built and launched the voyaging canoe Namahoe in September of 2016. After many years of sailing, Kruse was invited to participate in the 2014 Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage and reunited with many of his old voyaging friends.

Ah Hee was born and raised in Lahaina, Maui. His family spent much time on the water — fishing, paddling and surfing — from which he developed his water skills and a familiarity with the ocean. Ah Hee was first introduced to Hokule‘a in 1975 and was invited to sail on the return leg of her inaugural voyage to Tahiti. Since then, he has sailed on every Tahiti to Hawaii voyage and is honored to have been a part of the Hokule‘a crew. Ah Hee looks forward to long periods of time at sea.

Also born and raised in Lahaina, Baybayan first sailed on the Hokule‘a in 1975 and has been an active member of the voyaging community. He has served as captain on the Hokule‘a as well as the voyaging canoes Hawai‘iloa and Hokualaka‘i. Baybayan is the former Site Director of Honuakai, the Exploration Sciences Division of the ‘Aha Punana Leo, which teaches the Hawaiian Language to participants that crew aboard Hokualaka‘i.

He currently serves as the Navigator-in-Residence at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, developing wayfinding activities, curriculum materials, and conducting outreach. In 2007, Baybayan and four other Hokule‘anavigators were initiated into the order of Pwo (the 3,000-year-old society of deep-sea navigators in Micronesia) by their teacher, Mau Piailug, on the tiny atoll of Satawal in the Caroline Islands, Micronesia.

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“Keeping our voyaging stories and connections alive is a kuleana that Imiloa embraces,” said Executive Director, Ka‘iu Kimura. “We are anxiously excited to be offering our first ever live virtual presentation to share these first-hand experiences and are so very grateful for the continued support of the Ama Olukai Foundation and all of the presenters in making this available to the wider public.”

To register, visit www.imiloahawaii.org.

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