Hawaii Senate Honors Hokulea’s 40 Year History

In an historic gathering in the Senate chambers, Hawai’i’s State Senators recognized the Polynesian Voyaging Society and the twelve living crew members from the Hōkūle‘a’s maiden voyage to Tahiti in 1976. It is the first time all living members of the Hōkūle‘a’s original crew were together since the inaugural voyage.

Senatehonorshokulea

Recognizing the impact the Hōkūle‘a and the Polynesian Voyaging Society has made on the state of Hawai‘i, Senators honored the 40th anniversary of the legendary sailing canoe and its birth of the revival of traditional voyaging and wayfinding.

“This dedicated crew has inspired generations to be proud of their Pacific heritage and to continue to seek inclusive island wisdom of sustainability, responsibility and mutual respect and caring,” said Senator Gilbert Kahele (D 1st District – Hilo, Pi‘ihonua, Kaūmana, Waiākea, Keaukaha). “Hōkūle‘a is more than a voyaging canoe, she represents a design shared by the people of Hawai‘i, the Pacific and the world to perpetuate and protect our most cherished values and places from disappearing.”

“Forty years is a long time and it raises the question: ‘Is something like a voyaging canoe relevant? Does it still have meaning and value to our society?’” said Nainoa Thompson, pwo navigator, president of PVS and crewmember of the 1976 maiden voyage. “We are grateful to have our governmental body take the time to celebrate the worldwide voyage and to me, it shows that Hawai‘i is still with us, that the canoe still matters. As the voyage now heads into the Indian Ocean, which is much more dangerous, it gives us the strength to set sail.”

Honored today on the Senate floor:

  • Ben Finney, Ph.D. – In 1973, Finney co-founded the Polynesian Voyaging Society with Herb Kāne and Tommy Holmes. He served as PVS’s first president.
  • Milton “Shorty” Bertelmann – Bertelmann first learned traditional, observational navigation from Mau Piailug during the sail from Hawai‘i to Tahiti. He served as captain on Hōkūle‘a in 1980 and 1985.
  • Richard “Buffalo” Keaulana – Often referred to as the “Mayor of Makaha,” Keaulana is the winner of the 1960 Makaha International.
  • John Kruse – Kruse is a pillar of the canoe community on Kaua‘i and continues to lead work on the Garden Isle’s own sailing canoe, Namahoe.
  • William “Billy” Richards – Richards serves as a director on several public service organizations, Native Hawiian and educational boards, including Paepae O He‘eia, Bishop Museum Association Council, and ‘Aha Kāne. He is presently the Director of Communications for Partners in Development Foundation, a public not-for-profit company that serves the Native Hawaiian community through social and educational programs.
  • Charles Nainoa Thompson – Thompson is the first Hawaiian to practice the art of wayfinding on long distance ocean voyages since such voyaging ended in Hawai‘i around the 14th century. He now teaches a system of wayfinding that he developed by synthesizing traditional principles of ancient Pacific navigation and modern science.
  • Abraham “Snake” Ah Hee – Ah Hee is a veteran of the National Guard and served a tour in Vietnam.  He credits the Hōkūle‘a’s voyage for strengthening the Hawaiian culture in spirit.
  • Francis Kainoa Lee – Lee became a part of the Hōkūle‘a’s first crew after his wife signed him up for a workshop in Kualoa to get acquainted with sailing the wa‘a. Lee has sailed on many voyages since and continues to support the crews in the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage.
  • Kimo Lyman – Lyman worked for the first fire department in Waialua. He is a veteran of many sails on Hōkūlea starting in 1976 and was the instrumental navigator on the voyage from Tahiti to Hawai‘i.
  • Gordon Pi‘ianai‘a – Pi‘ianai‘a’s career at sea began shortly after he graduated from the Kamehameha Schools for boys and he entered the Navy. Gordon started sailing on Hōkūle‘a in 1976 and has served as captain on numerous legs, while sailing a part of each of the voyages from 1980 through 2014.
  • Penny Martin – Martin is one of only two women who took part in Hōkūle‘a’s first voyage in 1976. She now works for Papahana Kualoa’s Lelekamanu Project where she teaches cultural- based environmental education.
  • Dr. Ben Young – Dr. Young served as the crew’s doctor on the first voyage in 1976. Young authored the article, Psychological Effects of Long Ocean Voyages, which is still used to educate new crewmembers on how to recognize and plan for the psychological effects that could be experienced during long voyages.

Volunteers and employees of the University of Hawai‘i Honolulu Community College and its Marine Education and Training Center and the                                                                                                                                                                                                        Polynesian Voyaging Society who have supported the many sails over the past 40 years were also recognized on the Senate floor.  They include:

  • Cecelia Lindo — one of the first staff of PVS
  • Haʻaheo Mansfield — one of the first staff of PVS
  • Bert Kaihe Barber — one of the first volunteers for PVS and Hōkūleʻa
  • Robert Perkins — Director of the Marine Education and Training Center (where Hōkūleʻa and PVS are housed)
  • Laura Thompson — PVS Board Member, wife of Pinky Thompson and mother of Nainoa Thompson
  • Clyde Nāmuʻo — CEO of PVS
  • Dennis Kawaharada — Kapiʻolani Community College, English faculty and long-time PVS documenter
  • Neil Hannahs — PVS Board Chair
  • Marisa Hayase — PVS Communications Director
  • Lilikalā Kameʻeleihiwa — PVS Board Member
  • Billy Ornellas — PVS Board Member
  • Erika Lacro — Chancellor of Honolulu Community College

“Hōkūleʻa continues to be Hawai‘i’s canoe, a floating classroom for Hawai‘i and Island Earth, building on the awareness and understanding generated from her historic launching forty years ago,” said Sen. Kahele. “We extend our best wishes for the safety and success in their journey on their Mālama Honua, the Worldwide Voyage.”

For more information on the Polynesian Voyaging Society and the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage: www.hokulea.com

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