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Makaliʻi Voyaging Family

Nā Kālai Waʻa


Nā Kālai Waʻa is a non-profit 501c (3) organization dedicated to the maintaining of cultural values and customs through the teaching and applying of non instrument navigation and open ocean voyaging.


"He wa'a he moku,

 he moku he wa'a"


 "He waʻa he moku, he moku he waʻa" simply translates to

"The canoe is our island, and the island is our canoe."


Clay Bertelmann, founder of Nā Kālai Waʻa, uttered these

 words when explaining the unique holistic nature of wa'a practices and how they relate to us individually and as a larger community.  Simply put, what we do on land like we do on the canoe.  This is the vision of Nā Kālai Waʻa and the foundation of our work with our communities.

Ka Manu Kāhea


Ka Manu Kāhea honors the many voices of the canoe.  Starting with the story of a single man learning to chant at the ocean, and first finding his way around sung histories, the film then follows the birth of canoes as told and remembered through chants and songs, both from the past and the present.  Ka Manu Kāhea features the stories, voices, and melodies of those who were instrumental in the building, launching, and sailing of the single-hulled canoe, Mauloa, and later the double-hulled canoe, Makaliʻi. The film is a call, like the call of the manu kāhea, to invite everyone back to the waʻa, back to the ocean, and back to our shared memories and histories.


ʻOhana Makaliʻi


ʻOhana Makaliʻi is made up of everyone who helped to make the dream of Makaliʻi become a reality as well as those who continue to support the education programs and voyaging expeditions of Nā Kālai Waʻa. The ʻohana began humbly on the slopes of Mauna Loa searching for a log for Mauloa, the first canoe of Nā Kālai Waʻa and continued to grow during the building of Makaliʻi, Hokuliʻiliʻi, and Alingano Maisu. Today the ʻohana

numbers over 1,000 people and continues to grow.

When voyaging, Makaliʻi becomes home to all who sail upon her deck.  She is the maritime parallel to our homes on land. The success of a voyage on Makaliʻi depends on all kūlana or roles of  crewmembers on the waʻa.  Crew consist of lawaiʻa (fishermen), mahiʻai (farmers), kahuna pule (priests), kahuna noeʻau (craftsmen), aliʻi (leaders), and makaʻāinana (the people). The canoe is the platform for each individuals to practice their cultural lifestyle in a collaborative way. This is what makes Makaliʻi unique; each individual is celebrated for what they contribute to the whole group. Makaliʻi ʻohana is the village - whether on land or on the canoe.  What is done to thrive on land, 

is also done to thrive on the canoe. 

It's easy to join the Makaliʻi ʻohana.

  • Become a volunteer

  • Bring your school group or organization to visit Makaliʻi

  • Join us for maintenance work when Makaliʻi is out on drydock each year

  • Come to visit any of the other  canoes.


We look forward to meeting you and welcoming

you to our Makaliʻi ʻohana

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