Blog | Pomai Bertelmann: The Burden of Maui

Haʻa Monga A Maui – The Burden of Maui

Oh Maui who pulls up the islands,
Oh Maui who slows down the sun,
Oh Maui the deliverer of fire,
Oh Maui the kite flyer,
Oh Maui the lifter of the sky,
Oh Maui who clings to the back of Wākea,
Oh Maui, the masterful son of Hina. 

Growing up, through stories, songs, and chants, we learned about the many strifeʻs of Mauikiʻikiʻiakalana, each designed by the makua in his life to build up his knowledge and skill of the natural world. At a young age, his grandmother recognized Maui`s natural abilities to commune with the atmospheric and terrestrial entities of the honua, thus identifying him as kaula.

The people of Tongatapu in the Kingdom of Tonga claim Maui as their son who is responsible for many invaluable feats. Tavita Fale spent many years in Hawaiʻi studying the accounts of Maui of his native home. Tavita has penned a few books about Tongan astronomy and its relationship to the larger Pacific and her people. Much of his research was spent understanding Mauiʻs relationship between Maui, the sun and the awa ceremony.  We were taken to visit the Haʻa Monga A Maui – a monolithic edifice of coral and limestone set approximately 6-8ʻ deep in the ground and standing 15-20ʻ above the ground.  Its shape can be compared to the capital letter “H” in the alphabet with its upper parts cut down to stand 6 inches above the top of the parallel line. This parallel stone weighs well over 1,000 pounds

Pomai Bertelmann,
Crewmember, Hōkūleʻa

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Update | October 27, 2014

Aloha, this is Miki Tomita, crewmember on Hikianalia coming to you today from the beautiful port of Nukuʻalofa. It’s the capital of the Kingdom of Tonga. We are preparing to depart and head on our way to Aotearoa. We have a sighting planned for Rangitahua (Kermadec Islands), and we’ll continue onto Waitangi where there will be an amazing ceremony and series of events there. You might be able to hear in the background the Kingdom of Tonga and government officials here are setting up a wonderful departure ceremony for us. We’ve enjoyed their hospitality for many days and been able to connect with a lot of students and community members. It has been a wonderful learning experience for all of us. I wanted to sent a shoutout to the students at the University Lab School Project Pono. I also wanted to remind all students who are watching this that one of our main goals of our voyage is to find out how people are working to mālama honua in their own home environments. One of the ways to share with us is to follow us on, track the voyage, and let us know how you mālama honua in your own communities. So we hope to hear from you soon, and keep following us. Mahalo!

Continue to follow the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage by visiting us online and joining our global movement towards a more sustainable Island Earth.

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Education Outreach – Tongatapu

“The kids’ favorite station when they come to the canoe is the canoe. I think we’ve always said, and we know from personal experience, that the canoe is the hook, the experience on the canoe is the hook,” said Hōkūleʻa crewmember Pomai Bertelmann.

“The kalia I think for a lot of these these children is something that has been a little esoteric, something that they canʻt necessarily imagine. Then you have these two canoes from Hawaiʻi pull into port, and then you talk to them about the distances that they’ve traveled and where they’ve come from, and they really, really light up.  So we’ve been able to work with thus far about 120 students that have come with the canoes, but also other community members that have come down already.  You can see, and you especially feel that we recognize and they recognize that the canoe is a common strand between people,” said Pomai.

“For many of these communities we’ve visited, the students and even some of the adults, had not seen a waʻ a kaulua, a voyaging canoe, and it shocks them and inspires them. It’s something that engages them and even dreaming about what that past might have been. It’s a pretty amazing thing. To have them spend that time in this sort of structured educational environment, talking about the earth, talking about the ocean, talking about Mālama Honua, I feel like it strengthens our crewmembers commitment to the voyage. But also it’s a way for students to see themselves as a reflection of that crewmember perhaps,” said Miki Tomita

“They were all very inspired by the fact that we cross deep oceans, and they wanted to know how we find the courage to do that. And one of the things that I talked to the aunties about is that all of us have that in us. And that we shouldn’t let fear get into the way of achieving something that seems impossible,” said Miki.

“So I think for these young men and women who come from these islands, it is essential that we start to look at spending time back on the ocean again.  One, so we can build that mental and physical and spiritual wellness, but also so we can start to refamiliarize ourselves with our brothers and sisters who live in various parts of the Pacific. ʻSo what station did you like the most,ʻ and they will point to or say ʻwakaʻ or ʻwaʻa.ʻ So again, itʻs the canoe and the magic of the waʻa that inspires and speaks to the heart of people,” said Pomai.

Continue to follow the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage by visiting us online and joining our global movement towards a more sustainable Island Earth.

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Update | October 23, 2014

Welina me ke aloha! This is Kaʻiulani Murphy coming to you from the deck of Hōkūleʻa. We are in Nukualofa in the harbor on the island of Tongatapu. We left from the island of Vavaʻu, also in the Kingdom of Tonga, yesterday morning and sailed about 160 miles. So it’s an overnight sail, about 24 hours it took us. We had a very good navigation training night because there was total cloud cover, maybe a few minutes a couple times in the night where there was openings in the clouds so we can see some stars to reaffirm our heading. Otherwise, it was a beautiful night. Both crews are healthy and safe and sending our love to our ʻohana back at home. Mahalo nui for all of your support and allowing us to be here and reconnecting with our ʻohana in the Kingdom of Tonga. We are looking forward to meeting the people here in Tongatapu and getting ready for our next leg of the voyage, which will take us to Waitangi (Aotearoa). Mahalo nui again for following us on Aloha!

Continue to follow the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage by visiting us online and joining our global movement towards a more sustainable Island Earth.

Blog | Miki Tomita: What the Sunrise Brings

We are finally out at sea!  The crew for the Sāmoa to Aotearoa leg of the Worldwide Voyage departed this morning from Pago Pago, American Sāmoa, headed toward Vavaʻu, Tonga.

Our waʻa first arrived in Pago Pago in August, guided by the crew of the Tahiti to Sāmoa leg of the Voyage.  The Sāmoa leg crew then sailed our waʻa to Apia for the United Nations SIDS conference, then back to Pago Pago.  Last week, our third Sāmoa crew began preparing to enter the realm of Kanaloa through extensive on-site training, ranging from protocol to safety to sail dynamics.

With the recent arrival and today’s departure of the current crew, the gracious and generous community of Pago Pago has now hosted three different groups of Worldwide Voyage crewmembers.   We’ve had the honor of meeting politicians, educators, community members, and most importantly young children to share the messages of Mālama Honua and our commitment to stewarding our Island Earth and our oceans.

As we gathered to pule together on the dock at Malaloa Harbor, we were joined by those who have welcomed us as family for our extended stay in beautiful Tutuila, as well as those we bring with us in our thoughts and hearts.  With our voices joined as one, we offered our words and prayers to commemorate our time together, to help send our crew on their way to Tonga.  Our sights are set on Vavaʻu, the first of three planned landfalls for this leg of the Voyage.

But the sail plan is so much more than that.

Watching this first sunset at sea as a voyaging crewmember on my first deep ocean crossing, my mind and heart say that Hōkūleʻa and the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage help set our sights on so much more – we are all part of a voyage for a better tomorrow for our Island Earth, one that brings us together as people of the ocean and land to tell our stories of caring for our earth and her people.

I look forward to what the sunrise brings.

Learn more about our crewmembers and the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage. Visit us and join our global movement towards a more sustainable Island Earth.

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From Father to Daughter

“ʻO wau ʻo Kalā Baybayan, no Lahaina mai au. My connection to the canoe and to voyaging began from even before I was born. My father has been sailing from before when I was born. He fell in love with the canoe and so, from then as a little boy in high school, he kept following the canoe. For me, I always grew up around the canoe. I never sailed on it. I always saw this canoe as something that I knew that he felt a strong connection to, but as a child growing up, I really didn’t understand it. I graduated high school then college, and was having conversation with my grandma and I was just telling her, ‘What is it about the canoe that dad loves so much? I really want to know.’ She’s like, ‘Well, you should go sail with him.’

“I remember just getting on the canoe and I wondered am I gonna get seasick? Or, how am I gonna use the bathroom? All of these kind of anxious feelings. But the one thing that grounded me was that my father was there. He was my rock, and I knew that no matter what happened, I was safe because I was with him,” said Kalā.

“In the early morning hours, everything is so calm, and I was just under this blanket of stars in this circle, and I’d never ever experienced anything like that. All this time I’m steering the canoe, and my dad’s talking to me about the stars. I swear, I saw every star that night, and it stuck to me. It was like a hook,  and I wanted to know more about this. I want to know everything about this. For me, growing up, I felt like I was kind of in a box, protected from everything, from the world around me. That one sail like broke down all the walls, and I realized that there is so much more around you and there’s so much that you can learn from your environment,” said Kalā.

Since her first sail, Kalā has grown into the position of apprentice navigator. With this new kuleana, Kalā is faced with a unique learning perspective being the daughter of one of the five Hawaiian master navigators, Chad Kālepa Baybayan.

“I hear a lot you know from other crewmembers ʻOh you have such big shoes to fill. He’s an amazing man, he knows so much, and I just get so anxious being compared to him. I don’t like to be compared to him because to me, him and all the other pwo navigators are like these super heroes with these superpowers. How could I ever be at their level? I just want to learn from them. To me, it’s just being his daughter, it’s even like more intimidating,” said Kalā.

“Working with my daughter’s a real honor and privilege, but I always tell her, she’s got to carry her own weight. I can provide information for her, but she’s got to study on her own.  She’s got to demonstrate her own willingness to learn by her own commitment to that learning process,” said Kālepa Baybayan.

And Kalā has shown her commitment as she went through training and participated in navigational study on Hikianalia for the leg from Hawaiʻi to Tahiti.

“That first leg down from HawaiʻI to Tahiti has changed me and and how I am on the canoe,” said Kalā.

Kalā continued on Hikianalia for the next leg through Samoa under the direction of her father, an experience of growth and satisfaction on both ends.

“It was very rewarding to have my daughter participate and show great interest in navigation. It has taken us quite some time to get into this generational  shift of participation. Now we’re getting into the level where our own children are participating. It is quite fulfilling to see the generational shift. But it is also a process of being very patient as they develop their own leadership skills. They just need to be good students. My hope for today’s generation is that they can harness our ability and then to elevate it and amplify our level of proficiency at doing good work and carry us into the future,” said Kālepa.

Continue to follow the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage by visiting us online and joining our global movement towards a more sustainable Island Earth.

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Update | October 21, 2014

Aloha, this is Mark Ellis, education specialist as well as apprentice navigator here on Hikianalia. We are passing Vavaʻu. Being one of the apprentice navigators for leg of the voyage was a great experience for me. I don’t know if I want to call myself an apprentice navigator, maybe training to become an apprentice navigator. So one of the main things that we did on this portion was to use the sun and the swells. We had a swell that was coming across Nalani-Malanai. So we named that swell Nalani. The swell was always there. There was couple other swells that were coming across. But Nalani was constantly there for us so that we were able to continue the path. So from this observation, I believe our ancestors – our kūpuna – really knew the environment they were living in. They were at one with their environment. For me, at times, I’m not very connected with the environment. I’m listening to other things, whether it is deadlines that I’ve got to take care of. But we actually should listen to our environment, and our environment will lead us and help us in those ways. So this experience, especially in the past several days, I’ve been learning and fine tuning the navigation and wayfinding skills. This experience will give me that foundation that I can share with others when I go back home. I think it becomes even more real that this guy is not just talking about book smarts, but he’s actually lived it. Thanks again, and continue to follow us on

Continue to follow the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage by visiting us online and joining our global movement towards a more sustainable Island Earth.

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Blog | Mark Ellis: Waiting for Favorable Winds

We’ve been here in Pago Pago, American Samoa for about a week now. We start each day with a 7am morning crew meeting, at which time we go over the plans for the day, as well as getting an update on weather.

Over the past several days our Captains and others have been watching the weather closely, looking at the forecast to see when the winds would be most favorable for the canoes to depart Pago Pago.

During this waiting period, we are able to review and refine safety procedures and deepen our understanding of sail dynamics to ensure a safe and successful sail. For those of us who are learning navigation, this waiting period has been a great opportunity to learn from two Pwo navigators – Bruce Blankenfeld of Hawaii and Jacko Thatcher of Aotearoa.

We meet together often to discuss different navigation techniques and concepts. I really enjoy the times when they share with us their personal moʻolelo (stories) of how they learned a concept or technique, as it makes it real for me. For some outside of our crew, it may seem that a weather delay could be an inconvenience, but for me and many of the crew members on this leg of the worldwide voyage, it’s a unique opportunity to learn and sharpen our skills.

As I continue to learn, I look forward to the day that I can share this moʻolelo of waiting for favorable winds in Pago Pago with my children.

Never goodbye, but until we meet again.


Learn more about our crewmembers and the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage. Visit us and join our global movement towards a more sustainable Island Earth.

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