Namahoe, Kauai’s first traditional voyaging canoe, made her inaugural launch into the waters of Nawiliwili Bay at high noon yesterday. The historic birth of the canoe is the culmination of more than 20 years of work by Kauai’s voyaging group Na Kalai Waa o Kauai under the leadership of John Kruse, Dennis Chun and the late Dr. Patrick Aiu. The Kauai community joined by voyagers and supporters from though out Hawaii and the Pacific celebrated Namahoe’s launch with festivities held today at the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club.
With the birth of Namahoe, which means Gemini, the guiding constellation from Oahu to Kauai, there are now eight traditional voyaging canoes in Hawaii. According to Kruse, Namahoe may be the first voyaging canoe launched from Kauai in close to 600 years. At 72-feet long, the canoe is also the largest in the Hawaiian islands.
“Namahoe already holds so much mana from the many hands in the community that helped to build her over the last 20 years,” said Chun. “The community on Kauai needs to have its own voyaging canoe to help perpetuate the culture and values of our ancestors and to provide educational opportunities for our young people.”
“I commend John, Dennis and the late Dr. Aiu for their vision and years of extraordinary dedication to building a voyaging canoe for Kauai and its people,” said Nainoa Thompson, president, Polynesian Voyaging Society. “To see there are now eight voyaging canoes in Hawaiian waters since Hokulea was born 41 years ago shows that the people of Hawaii share a desire to protect our past and our most cherished values,” he said.
All former crewmembers of Hokulea, Kruse, Chun and Aiu were first inspired to build a canoe for Kauai back in 1995, after the construction of Makalii on Hawaii Island.