Crew Blog: Waimānalo Weekend
Waimānalo, Oʻahu —
By Michi Wong and Jenna Ishii.
This past weekend, Hōkūleʻa visited beautiful Waimānalo. For weeks, the community has come together to plan for Hōkūleʻa’s stay. This weekend was also the Waimānalo Country Fair, and we are so grateful to the organizing committee for allowing us to be a part of the Fair and for hosting our crew members with such aloha. As we sailed into Waimānalo, the children and community members all gathered on the beach and welcomed Hōkūleʻa. We could hear the sound of the drums from the ocean as we were surrounded and escorted by sailing canoes, outrigger canoes, surfers and swimmers.
Hui Mālama O Ke Kai helped to organize over 60 organizations, families and community partners for this weekend. Their young leaders Kalani and Mina were at the heart of reaching out to the community and organizing the various welcoming events, dinners, huakaʻi, and departure. Hui Mālama O Ke Kaiʻs mission is developing community pride and fostering leadership in Waimānalo’s youth and families through the teaching of Native Hawaiian culture and values. They hosted the crew at their beautiful new location and we got to know the families and youth of Waimānalo through eating together and looking at the night sky on their big grassy field.
Six of us returned to Waimānalo Beach after star gazing at Hui Mālama O Ke Kai. We were assigned to anchor watch and had agreed to awaken every hour throughout the night to check on Hōkūleʻa. We arose earlier than expected at 3 am, had our coffee with the sunrise, then headed to Puʻuhonua O Waimānalo.The village of Puʻuhonua O Waimānalo is the first of it's kind – a land base for the developing of a sovereign Hawaiian nation, where Kanaka Maoli and our extended ʻohana are living close to the ʻāina in a self-determined community dedicated to cultural, social, political, and economic advancement of the people. Puʻuhonua – the refuge – was born out of struggle and out of hope.
Deep in the valley, the families and kūpuna invited us into their social place of refuge, a lace of social, cultural, and economic restoration. As we hiked up the road lined with humble homes, Brandon gave us an overview of the sociopolitical history, and stated that the mission is to practice peaceful coexistence, self-governance, and to restore food and economic security for Hawaiians.
The families have begun rebuilding the ahupua'a. They have cleared the valley of eucalyptus, and the land is latticed by red dirt terraces and an irrigation system. Many varieties of taro are being propagated so that they will have enough, 12,000 taro, to fill the lo'i. There is ko, ulu, momi, and olena. There are chickens and tilapia growing fat in aquaculture tanks. There is a heiau with iwi, and there are new beginnings. This is a place of aloha.
We enjoyed delicious hot bread pudding at the hale at the valley. The view was breathtaking, the taro field, the red dirt terraces, the expanse of Waimānalo below, sunlight glancing off the sheer cliffs, Mānana Island to the west, and Olomana to the east. We headed down the road for a lovely brunch prepared for us by the youth of Hawaiʻi Job Corp. Back at the beach, we hosted the families of Waimānalo, welcoming them to visit Hōkūleʻa, and children made aloha ʻāina flags for the Worldwide Voyage.
To end our incredible weekend in Waimānalo, about 300 community members gathered for a paʻina at Hui Mālama O Ke Kai for food, music, dancing and talking story. We are so grateful for all of the aloha, support, and ono food that was shared with Hōkūleʻa and our crew.
For more information about Puʻuhonua O Waimānalo, go to http://www.hawaii-nation.org/puuhonua.html.
For more information about Hui Mālama O Ke Kai, go to: http://www.huimalamaokekai.org/.
For more information about Job Corps, go to: http://hawaii.jobcorps.gov/home.aspx.