Yesterday, Nā Kālai Waʻa staff visited with students on HPAʻs Village Campus. Our waʻa ʻohana took traditionally made coastal sailing canoe Mauloa to the campus to teach the students about waʻa plants, parts of the canoe, and the importance of revitalizing our ancestral knowledge of sailing, navigation, and waʻa building.
Maulili Dickson told students how some plants like ulu and koa were used for the canoe while Leiʻohu Santos-Coulburn shared about cordage made from niu and the steps it takes to make it. Kealiʻi Maielua named parts of the canoe and explained why those parts were vital to a canoe and why it was made the way it was.
Nā Kālai Waʻa staff also shared about ʻai pono and the processes taken to prepare the food for the voyage to Mokumanamana this past summer. They shared about Project Hanauna Ola and about the many school gardens around Hawaiʻi island, including HPA, that supplied many fresh veggies for the voyage. Students were show a vacuum sealed bag of eggs from HPA and were shocked to hear it would last up to 25 years.
Master Navigator Chadd Paishon and crew member, Chelsey Dickson answered questions students asked such as "Did you have to eat the same thing everyday?" "What were the different processes you used to preserve the food." "How much food did you need to take with you?", "How did you cook the food?" and "Was there any food you could eat at the places you stopped durning the voyage?"
Kuʻulei Keakealani and Sandy Kamaka gave students the opportunity to show their observations skills and knowledge of fish. Kuʻulei and Sandy displayed photos of fish for the students to look over before they share facts about a specific fish. Quickly students hands would shoot up. Theyʻd identify each fish at a time, sharing the English and Hawaiian names and some additional information. Kuʻulei and Sandy then got the student on their feet and taught them names and hand motions about different tides.
Students also got to learn the importance of cordage and aspects of the traditional process of making it. They learned that the actual braiding of a piece of cord can take minutes while the growing of the plant, harvesting, and preparation of the fibers can take months to years depending on the type of plant you choose to use. Kawehi Kahanaoi showed the student several different types of cordage made from plants such as maʻia and hala. She also shared a few bundles of fibers that had been naturally dyed using plants
As a test, Kawehi had students hold strands of cordage between them and test itʻs strength, having them pull each other back and forth with the cord. Students were surprised by the strength and more surprised that none of the cords broke.
Kuwalu Anakalea shared an important message with her students after having listened to Kawehi speak about her work making cordage. She spoke about how important it is that we continue to learn skills such as the ones the students were learning about that day and to pass on the knowledge to future generations. Whether the knowledge be about traditional waʻa building or ancient ways of reading stars, or it be about traditional cord making or knowing Hawaiian names for fish and how to read the tides, itʻs the kuleana of all of us to carry on the knowledge.