September 15: Blessing and Launching of Hikianalia (Updated on Sept. 16)
The launch ceremony for Hikianalia took place on Saturday, September 15th, under solid cloud cover, strong winds and intermittent rains – perhaps a glimpse of conditions we will encounter at sea. The weather did not dampen the enthusiasm of the large crowd that assembled to wish Hikianalia well at the moment of her birth, symbolized by her first touching the sea.
(Click on any image to enlarge it and access a slide show of images in this post.)
The PVS advance party of Attwood “Maka” Makanani, Kealoha Hoe and Mike Taylor were joined by a large contingent of PVS leadership and members on Friday, September 14th. Everyone began working together to prepare for the launch ceremony.
Many came to witness her birth: those who labored to build her, the Pacific Voyagers who had just concluded their voyage, and the crew who would soon be sailing her from Aoteraroa to Tahiti. Pacific voyaging’s brightest stars were in attendance: Hekenukumai Busby, Nainoa Thompson, Dieter Paulmann, Hoturoa Kerr, Tua Pittman, Bruce Blankenfeld, Peia Patai, presidents of several national voyaging societies, numerous captains of the Pacific Voyagers’ vakas and Hōkūleʻa, and many crewmembers from all the islands of the Pacific.
Hikianalia was doubly blessed in a Maori ceremony led by Hoturoa Kerr and Frank Kane, and a Hawaiian ceremony conducted by Kahu Kaniela Akaka. The program featured inspirational talks by Hekenukumai, Dieter and Nainoa; recognition of marine architect Nick Peal and the crew of Salthouse Boat Builders (who have now built more double-hulled voyaging canoes than anyone on Earth); many hakas and song and dance. The highlight of the day came at high tide when Hikianalia was allowed to slide down the ramp to float at last in the Pacific.
Like the two namesake stars traversing the heavens together, Hikianalia was destined to be the companion vessel of Hōkūle‘a.
Hikianalia captain Bruce Blankenfeld shared his reflections: “The Maori spoke to the ancestors of the land. The Maori youth sang beautifully of Hawaiʻi, pouring out their hearts, with hands quivering like the wind blowing through the silver fern. This is to honor the ancestors.”
All were immersed in a wave of realization of the great hope of the day. Hikianalia is newly arrived with a kuleana born of those who sailed before and now, born of a rich heritage — the navigators, their lands, language and culture nearly lost to extinction, Hōkūle‘a and the revival of voyaging, and the power of the present moment. We are tasked to carry this message forward for the future of our keiki.
Kaniela Akaka closed the ceremony by blessing Hikianalia and said, “She is a bridge between Hawaiian and Maori cousins. Yesterday was a historic moment as we merged our protocols in the blessings we did for Hikianalia. We were able to give the canoe a breath of life as we helped to witness the birth of this great canoe.” The ceremony ended with these words from everyone on board: “Maikaʻi loa ka waʻa Hikianalia”.
The evening concluded with an ono buffet, plenty socializing and more Maori cultural performances. It truly was an amazing day. Mahalo to all who made it possible.