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NKW Blog

Hoʻi Ke Aloha I Kahuwai

As Kānehoalani began his trek back from Kealapolohiwaakāne towards Ka Piko o Wākea and our paeʻāina basked in the Kauwela heat, tradewinds, and gentle ocean swells Makaliʻi returned to a familiar and long time favorite shoreline of Kaʻulupūlehu (Kaʻūpūlehu), Kona ʻĀkau. At the humble request from our dear Tūtū Lei Keakealani Lightner to join her in celebration of 15 years of the Kaʻūpūlehu Cultural Interpretive Center at Kalaemanō – Makaliʻi by sea and Mauloa by trailer made their way to the famed lands of Kekahawaiʻole.



Kahuwai houses the notorious Kaʻūpūlehu Petroglyph Field, which captured and documents the most significant amount of sail motifs in all of Hawaiʻi. In the 1970’s it was here that PVS leadership searched the storied pāhoehoe for the iconic crab claw sails of Hōkūleʻa’s earlier years. Kahuwai remains an integral part of our koʻihonua, our genealogical accounting of modern day voyaging canoes throughout Moananuiākea.  


As the sun rose over Hualālai, Makaliʻi, crewed by a the next generation of ʻaukai waʻa, arrived safely to the shores of Kahuwai and was warmly greeted by our ʻohana waʻa and lineal descendants of Kona ʻĀkau with oli and mele. For the remainder of the week our young crew members and Kålai Wa’a (canoe carvers) led canoe tours of Makali’i and Mauloa for an array of West Hawaiʻi teachers, as well as employees and guests of Kona Village. Makaliʻi’s history was shared along with the importance of Kaʻūpūlehu as one of Makaliʻi’s many coastal ports and home of our first hālau waʻa and star compass. Today our star compass accompanied by a new hālau waʻa stands at Kalaemanō, carefully guarded by Tūtū Lei and activated by the many schools, organizations, and community groups that engage in cultural place-based learning at the Kaʻūpūlehu Cultural Interpretive Center.


Returning to Kona ʻĀkau this past summer was a phenomenal experience and magical reminder of our deep roots and connections to so many ʻohana and communities throughout Hawaiʻi who have supported Nā Kālai Waʻa over the past 30 years. The youthful energy of the crew was celebrated by the ebb and flow of Kahuwai bay, the gentle Pohu winds, and a discernible link to generations of voyagers from time in antiquity.





In the evenings as the day winded down with the setting of the sun, a guitar and ʻukulele strummed to dancing feet upon Makaliʻi’s deck. As the first rays of daylight stretched across the ʻāina Pele and lit up the ocean’s surface, laughter and salty splashes echoed across Makaliʻi’s bow. We patiently await the beckoning call of our Tūtū Lei and others to hoist the sails once again and return to Kona i ke kai malino.


Kau ka peʻa holo ka waʻa!



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