Hauʻoli Lā Hānau e Hōkūleʻa: Rapa Nui Birthday Celebration
By ʻĀina Paikai
Built as an experiment, designed for only one voyage, Hōkūleʻa has practically circumnavigated the globe over the past three years. And today, on her 42nd birthday, she gleefully celebrated in the familiar comforts of her home in the Pacific.
The calm swells of Hanga Roa Bay have caressed the canoe over the past week during her stay. Along with the ocean swells, pleasant trade winds keep the clouds rolling, providing the perfect amount of shade, showers, and sunshine throughout the day.
After years on the other side of the world, Hōkūleʻa has entered into the Polynesian triangle once again and for all of us, it absolutely feels like home. So many Rapa Nui supporters have shown us that “southern” hospitality that is quite unique to these parts. Aloha for the canoe is definitely present around the globe, but her 40-year history in these waters garners much adoration from the locals here.
Taka, a local fisherman, born and raised in Rapa Nui, has forgone his livelihood for the past week to boat us back and forth upon our request. He motors about 1000 meters each round-trip on his fishing boat, Moana Nui, which does multiple laps a day, lugging our gear and crew too and fro without hesitation.
Ben has helped do the same on land, loading whatever gear we need transported onto the back of his pick-up truck. Today it was 66 empty 5 gallon water jugs to the bottling station, that will provide our crewmembers with safe drinking and cooking water.
Sam helped with our permitting fees, allowing the crews to visit some of the famous Moai structures free of charge.
Sina from the souvenir shop, demanded that all Hōkūleʻa crew see her selection of gifts and wares, and with each eager shopper, she adds a few extras to their fill up their bags and widen their smiles.
Riti sawed down some bamboo from his yard so that the canoe has fishing outriggers before their long voyage.
Alicia invited the crew to a home-cooked meal, made from a traditional umu (underground oven), stocked with ancestral foods like ʻuala (sweet potato) and poʻe (sticky dessert).
More sweet than that was the entertainment that followed performed by Alicia, Haumoana and crewmember Kekama Helm.
Later in the evening, Rene, the owner of the Te Moana Bar & Restaurant, invited the crew to another dinner by the sea. It is lovely that dinners here have been frequent for both outbound and incoming crews, yet each meal continues to get more exquisite!
These are just a few of the experiences that have made a lasting impression on us all. These connections and bonds are seldom lost, as these relationships build a stronger ‘ohana wa’a (family of voyagers). Hōkūleʻa, the mother of modern day Polynesian voyaging, continues to attract and broaden this extended families. Today, on her 42nd year, she continues to inspire through the Worldwide Voyage. Her message of Mālama Honua has found its way back to Te Pito o Te Henua… her home; and what a way to celebrate… with family.
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