Na Kalai Waʻa
He Wa'a He Moku, He Moku He Wa'a
"The canoe is our island, and the island is our canoe."
Uncle Clay Bertelmann, founder of Nā Kālai Waʻa, spoke these words when explaining the wa'a way of life and our relationships, individually and as a larger community, with ourselves, our waʻa and our moku. He Waʻa He Moku, He Moku He Waʻa is not just a metaphor, it is a way of life and it's the foundation of our work within our families and communities.
Chadd 'Onohi Paishon (Pwo Navigator, NKW Executive Director & Senior Captain) reminds us of the true meaning of He Wa'a He Moku, He Moku He Wa'a in this short video of crew and 'Ohana Makali'i gathering before the Hanauna Ola voyage to ancestral island Mokumanamana in 2019.
A Native Hawaiian Community
Nā Kālai Waʻa is dedicated to maintaining cultural values and customs through teaching and applying non-instrument navigation and open ocean voyaging.
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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.