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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 4:59 p.m., Thursday, May 17, 2007

Hokule'a's first captain passes away

Advertiser Staff


Elia Kawika David Ku'ualoha Kapahulehua is shown during the maiden voyage of Hokule'a, which took the ship to Tahiti and back to Hawai'i in 1976.

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The Hokule'a is shown during its initial voyage in 1976.

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The Polynesian Voyaging Society has announced the passing of Captain Elia Kawika David Ku'ualoha Kapahulehua, who led Hokule'a on her maiden voyage to Tahiti and back to Hawai'i in 1976.

According to a news release from the society, Kapahulehua died at The Queen's Medical Center at 7:20 a.m. today. He was 76.

Nainoa Thompson, president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and fellow crew member on the return trip to Hawai'i 31 years ago, said "everyone in the voyaging family is saddened that our first captain to Tahiti has voyaged on. Kawika was the first captain of a double-hulled canoe to voyage from Hawai'I to Tahiti in 600 years. The success of that voyage was crucial to the future of Hokule'a, and Kawika was the perfect captain."

Services will be announced at a later time as well as a final journey on Hokule'a upon her return from her voyage to Japan, the release said.

The society said it is inviting the public to share memories, stories or photos of Kapahulehua at the Web site and weblog at www.pvs.hawaii.org.