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Nā Kālai Waʻa

Ke Kahua - Our Foundation

Nā Kālai Wa`a (NKW), is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, established in 1993. NKW is dedicated to the continued practice of Hawaiian sailing canoe traditions. Mauloa was the first wa`a built in 1993 through traditional methods and with traditional materials. In 1995, Makali`i, a 54 foot double hulled voyaging canoe was completed and launched. These wa`a provide a vessel for educational and cultural experiences in the community, firmly instilling a sense of kuleana to each other and to our Earth. Built upon this foundation, Nā Kālai Wa`a provides activities and programs designed to support community involvement while maintaining the seaworthy integrity of Makali`i and the vessels in her family.

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Ka Nu`ukia – NKW Vision

To protect, perpetuate and honor the indigenous Hawaiian traditions and practices of wa`a (canoe) culture through the Makali`i voyaging canoe programs, for the past, present and future generations.

He wa`a he moku, he moku he wa`a.
The canoe is an island,
the island is a canoe.

Ke Ala Nu`ukia –

NKW Mission

Sharing Manaʻo, Moʻolelo & Haliʻa Aloha

Updates from our Blog...





main sail




kaula peʻa

tricing lines

manu ihu




kaula paepae

sheet lines


starboard hull

manu hope




main sail




hoe uli

steering paddles

ʻOhana Makaliʻi

ʻOhana Makaliʻi is everyone who made the dream of Makaliʻi come true and those who continue to support Nā Kālai Waʻa education programs and voyaging expeditions. 


Makaliʻi ʻohana was born on the slopes of Mauna Loa as they searched for a Koa tree to birth Mauloa, the first canoe of Nā Kālai Waʻa. Just as we are born into families, so are waʻa (canoes). Mauloa, Makaliʻi, Hokuliʻiliʻi, and Alingano Maisu were all born into our Nā Kālai Waʻa ʻohana. Today this ʻohana numbers over 1,000 people and continues to grow.


Makaliʻi becomes home to all who sail upon her. The success of a voyage depends on the kūleana (responsibilities) of  each crew member on the waʻa. The crew embodies lawaiʻa (fishermen), mahiʻai (farmers), kahuna pule (priests), kahuna noeʻau (craftsmen), aliʻi (leaders), and makaʻāinana (the people).


Makaliʻi ʻohana is the village on the waʻa and on ʻāina (land). The Waʻa is the vessel for each individual to learn to kūmaumau (work together) with aloha. 

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