Crew Profile

Give Me Your Children

“We have an enormous task in the issue of Mālama Honua I don’t believe that you’ll have people that will care for this earth if they don’t care. When is caring taught? When does that relationship to a place that you really understand a love for home, when does that happen?” says Pwo Navigator, Nainoa Thompson.

A love and respect for ʻāina or place is tied to an aloha for ʻohana… ties that are more than evident here in Waimea, home to the voyaging canoe Makaliʻi that was built by some of Hōkūleʻa’s original crewmembers. And now their own children are training even younger voyagers, who are well-connected to and care deeply for this place.

Pwo Navigator, Chadd Paishon says that, “They have been raised in that sense of being responsible. Being responsible in that overall sense that we contribute to the bigger community around us.”

Hōkūleʻa Crewmember, Leiʻohu Colburn says that, “Growing up in Waimea, not just your immediate family is raising you. I was raised by the whole Waimea community.”

Being raised by an extended family has its privilleges and to those whom much is given, much is expected.

“We want to do it, and not do it because we are told to do it, we want to do it because we know that’s what we have to do, what we want to do,” says Colburn.

“Because they come already with that value base, we can teach them all of the other things that they need to know,” says Paishon.

“This was my first voyage on a traditional double hulled canoe so I didn’t really know how it was going to be,” says Colburn.

This learning continued all throughout the voyage both on and off the canoe.

Hōkūleʻa Crewmember, Kaniela Anakalea-Buckley says that, “The voyage I thought would be just, you know, one big long sailing thing you know just about learning the wind and the waves, sailing, you know, you get from point A to point B but this voyage was a lot more than just sailing. You think about it the ocean doesn’t separate things, it connects it.”

Hōkūleʻa Crewmember, Pōmai Bertelmann, says, “I asked her I said you know Leiʻohu, what is it that you plan on doing um after you graduate? And she said waʻa. And so I told her I said well, you know, for every one tree that we put in the ground we have to, we take out of the ground, we have to plant more – So that our canoes can continue to be built and, it’s the forest that that allows us as kānaka to thrive. And from that conversation Leiʻohu eventually, chose her career path to be, Ag and Forestry.”

“I wanna be able to uh, put a Hawaiian forest on our mountain fill it back upand then from there, just expand,” says Colburn.

For these keiki who have grown up in and around the ʻohana waʻa, they see this experience through a whole new lens, one where the canoe and her values are almost innate.

“It’s something that can truly evolve because they already understand it at a very basic and very primal something that Mau had told the men after he had started to work with them in ‘75 and ‘76. You guys are too old, give me your sons,” says Bertelmann.

“If you wanna know the real deep essence and the real mana of navigation, you have got to be young enough to accept it,” says Thompson.

“When you are out there and only using the elements, um, and the navigators get you to your destination, going with their gut feeling. That was reassuring for all of us that we can depend on our naʻau and our kūpuna know, and we now know or are learning how to navigate that way,” says Colburn.

Paishon says that, “The next ones understand that do have a responsibility, you do have a purpose for being here.”

“Chaddy has lots of white hair now (laughs) so we are going to have to step up to the plate sooner or later,” says Colburn.

“There is gonna be a time where you know, we won’t be on the deck. Succession in leadership is where we are able to say at the end of our time, we did our job. It’s really beautiful to watch,” says Thompson.


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