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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, July 2, 2001

Groups converge on Kaho'olawe to greet Hokule'a crew

By Timothy Hurley
Advertiser Maui County Bureau

LAHAINA, Maui — It was a historic gathering, one that celebrated Kaho'olawe's past and dreamed of navigating into the future.

Protect Kaho'olawe 'Ohana leader Emmett Aluli, left, was on Kaho'olawe to welcome navigator Nainoa Thompson.

Timothy Hurley • The Honolulu Advertiser

More than 100 people journeyed to the former military bombing range to welcome the Hokule'a Friday on the last stop of its yearlong Islandswide sail. The group then spent much of the weekend learning about the island's hallowed standing in the realm of ancient Hawaiian navigation.

The weekend also was a time for celebrating the parallel 25-year journeys of the Protect Kaho'olawe 'Ohana and the Hokule'a — two strong forces at the forefront of the Hawaiian self-determination movement.

Representatives from the Protect Kaho'olawe 'Ohana, the Polynesian Voyaging Society, Malama Hawai'i and the Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission, as well as the Navy and its cleanup contractor, Parsons-UXB Joint Venture, were among those who joined in the ceremonies.

For Polynesian Voyaging Society navigator Nainoa Thompson, the weekend was a chance to scout the area as a place to train future navigators.

Ancient Hawaiians considered Kaho'olawe a manifestation of Kanaloa, Hawaiian god of the ocean and navigation. Two points on Kaho'olawe are highly significant to ancient navigation. Kealaikahiki, or "pathway to Tahiti," which is the western tip of the island, and Moaulaiki near the summit of the island, figured prominently in the training and preparation for the art of wayfinding between Hawai'i and Tahiti in the 12th century.

Kealaikahiki, in particular, was important because of its location near the exact middle of the Hawaiian Island chain in latitude, giving navigators a target for each return trip from Tahiti.

Thompson said he hopes to build a navigation platform, or star compass, on the coast at Kealaikahiki, where young navigators can train and memorize the alignment of the stars.

"They need to look at the heavens from that place,'' he said yesterday in Lahaina. "We would be honored to build a platform there.''

During the weekend, navigation students from Wai-'anae and Lahainaluna high schools gathered in groups to hear presentations from Hokule'a navigators.

'Aulani Wilhem of Malama Hawai'i described the gathering as a multigenerational, cross-cultural celebration marking the passage of a generation of restoration efforts on Kaho'olawe.

"It was quite a confirmation,'' she said. "It was a birthing of new energy and revived commitment to care for this place.''

The Navy's cleanup has entered its final three years with workers having cleared about 30 percent of the island. The Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission is now stepping up preparations to establish a Native Hawaiian cultural reserve.

The Hokule'a ended a yearlong sail celebrating the support of Hawai'i's communities for the past 25 years. Since it was first launched on March 8, 1975, the canoe has covered almost 100,000 miles, linking the vast reaches of Polynesia, from New Zealand in the west to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) in the south.