Kahapeʻa is from Kaneohe, Oahu. She first stepped foot aboard Makalii in 1995, Labor Day weekend in Kailua Kona and has been on the wa'a ever since. She immediately felt a strong connection to the wa'a and crew. For the last 28 years, she says "I have built my life on the wa'a". In 1996, she was a crew member on the Makali'i Statewide Sail, and in 1999 she sailed as watch captain for the E Mau - Sailing the Master Home voyage, and the 2019 voyage Hanauna Ola.
Kaheape'a achieved her BA in Hawaiian Studies from UH Hilo, MS in Counseling Psychology from Chaminade University, and MA in Transformative Learning and Change from California Institute of Integra Studies.
She passed on the foundation and knowledge gained at NKW and Makalii by helping to establish a coastal sailing canoe and education program on Oahu at Hālau Kū Mana Public School. In 2014 the non-profit Kanehunamoku Voyaging Academy was created, and for the last 21 years, Kanehunamoku has worked with schools to provide waʻa education in our communities.