Crew Profile

Huakaʻi to Kahoʻolawe

by Hye Jung Kim and Kailee Jackson

Polynesian Voyaging Society’s Youth Leadership Initiative, Nā Kelamoku, had the opportunity to access Kahoʻolawe with the Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana (PKO). The huakaʻi (voyage) consisted of various hikes, service opportunities, and invaluable memories. Nā Kelamoku had the opportunity to learn from various members of PKO and also interact with the other groups that were on island; but just as importantly, this huakaʻi brought our Nā Kelamoku group together in ways that words cannot describe.

The history of Kahoʻolawe is a complicated and tragic. The island was taken for military purposes in 1941 and used as bombing and target practice. The Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana led the protest to stop the bombing and return the island to its cultural purpose and legacy. This long process resulted in arrests and imprisonment, but in October of 1990 the military was directed to discontinue the use of the island for military purposes. For more information on the history and also ways to help the organization, please check out PKO’s website.

Mahalo nui loa (thank you very much) for the kua (leaders) who made this trip memorable for our youth crew, Kylee & Kekaulike Mar for inviting and organizing this huakaʻi, Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana for their endless efforts in restoring the island, and Saltchuk for sponsoring Nā Kelamoku.

Here is a day documented through the eyes of one of our Nā Kelamoku crew members, Kailee Jackson:

Day 3 on Island, Hike to Moaʻula Iki

Nā Kelamoku takes a picture at the bluff where we all met before starting the hike. Photo: Hye Jung Kim.
Nā Kelamoku takes a picture at the bluff where we all met before starting the hike. Photo: Hye Jung Kim.

We awoke to the blowing of the pū and got ready for a full day of hiking. It was before sunrise, so we were able to see the amazing stars and the Milky Way. Our group met at the top of a rocky cliff that overlooked the ocean and Maui. Before beginning our long journey, we said a pule (prayer), asking for a safe trip. We then began our twelve mile hike from Hakioawa to Moaʻula Iki.

About half an hour into the hike, the sun began to rise over the peak of Haleakalā, so we all chanted E Ala E and helped the sun to rise high into the sky.

Nā Kelamoku is all smiles after successfully chanting E Ala E and helping the sun to rise over Haleakalā. Photo: Kalaʻikū.
Nā Kelamoku is all smiles after successfully chanting E Ala E and helping the sun to rise over Haleakalā. Photo: Kalaʻikū.
Continuing our trek to Moaʻula Iki. Photo: Baylee Jackson.
Continuing our trek to Moaʻula Iki. Photo: Baylee Jackson.

After hiking a few more hours, we reached Moaʻula Iki. We got to see the Navigator’s Chair. In ancient days as well as modern training, this is a place to study the stars, currents, winds and waves. On a clear day, you are able to see Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, Maui, and Hawaiʻi and the various channels. PKO, Nā Kelamoku, and other volunteers removed their shoes to really feel the deep connection with the ‘āina. We sang E Ho Mai and asked for permission to enter the sacred place. When we reached the Navigator’s Chair we were able to see most of the island as this was one of the highest peaks on island. It was so peaceful and inspirational to be at a place where many brilliant voyagers and navigators have studied and practiced one of their most amazing skills, wayfinding and sailing by the stars and ocean conditions.

The famous bell pohaku (stone) at the top of Moaʻula Iki, near the Navigatorʻs Chair. Photo: Hye Jung Kim
The famous bell pohaku (stone) at the top of Moaʻula Iki, near the Navigatorʻs Chair. Photo: Hye Jung Kim
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Nā Kelamoku barefoot at Moaʻula Iki. Photo: Kalaʻikū.

We hiked back down the peak and ate lunch in a small hale. After resting for a while, we continued our journey to a rain shrine. Some of us offered hoʻokupu to the Hawaiian god, Kāne, asking for the blessing of rain. Once the ceremonies were completed, we continued to hike back down to our camp. Along the way, we saw some of PKO’s vegetation efforts and our steps we had built the day before. The view along the hike was incredible, the blue ocean glistened in the bright sun and we were able to see all of Maui and some of Hawaiʻi. Then within a few minutes, thick, grey rain clouds would surround us and open up their blessings of rain. This process continued throughout the whole day.

Tita, one of the kua, explains where we are using a map inside the hale we ate lunch and rested in. Photo: Baylee Jackson.
Tita, one of the kua, explains where we are using a map inside the hale we ate lunch and rested in. Photo: Baylee Jackson.

After about nine and a half hours, we made it back to our camp. The long, tiring hike was well worth the trek because we were able to experience amazing views, hear meaningful stories, and we were able to really feel the mana and feel a deep connection with the ‘āina. We worked together to make a ʻono (delicious) dinner and we talked story for the rest of the night. We shared our life-changing experiences on Kahoʻolawe and thanked the kua for the amazing opportunity and experience.

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Nā Kelamoku advisor, Hye Jung Kim and Kailee Jackson hiking back down to camp. Photo: Baylee Jackson.

Nā Kelamoku decided to pack up our tent and spend our last night on Kahoʻolawe on the beach, where a sky full of bright stars greeted us. One of Hōkūleʻaʻs crew members and apprentice navigators, Jason Patterson, talked story with us for a while and showed us the different groups of stars used to navigate. It was amazing how many stars and planets we were able to see when there was no light pollution.

The next day was another early morning. We cleaned up the camp and jumped on a boat back to Maui. Kahoʻolawe was truly an amazing, once in a lifetime experience and Nā Kelamoku hopes to be given the opportunity to visit the island again.


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