Education and Programs

Nā Kālai Waʻa (NKW) has been offering educational experiences to our community since the birth of Makaliʻi in 1995.  Programs, reflect the NKW vision statement, “He waʻa he moku, he moku he waʻa” (the canoe is an island, the island is a canoe). The curriculum is holistic and focuses on the relationship of all elements from the most fertile upland slopes to the deepest parts of our ocean. Through this pedagogy, programs focus on the individual's development and contribution to their own communities.  As kumu (teacher) and crew, NKW recognizes the strengths of each haumāna (students) and  helps them develope those strengths both as individuals and as part of their community.  Another important component of NKWʻs educational pedagogy is family learning. NKW builds canoes and programs that build communities. When families engage in a program together,  learning often continues after the family has left the program to return home. 

Through the years NKW has found that the canoe is the perfect educational platform to engage learners, both local and international, in basic academics, especially math and sciences. These STEM programs are perfectly married to the cultural aspects of voyaging so well that often students don’t even realize that they are performing tasks from simple measurements and conversions of units to complicated physics formulas that determine speed.  When our learners see the direct application

of these STEM and other academic skills in a cultural setting, it is easy for them to see the relevance to their everyday lives as well.



Professional and Personal Development Workshops

Nā Kālai Waʻa offers a series of activities and lessons that help develop individuals as leaders and groups as affective collaborative units. These activities range from trust building excercises to cultural workshops on wahi pana (significance

of place), mea noʻeau (work styles and crafts of Hawaiʻi), and pilinakanaka (developing relationships to self and others).

Most activities take about an hour and are designed for groups of 10-20 per activity. 


School Visits

Captains and crew-members of Makaliʻi are often asked

to visit schools and programs across the state to share their knowledege and lifestyles of voyaging.  School visits include presentations by captains and crew-members and hands on activities from learning mele and ʻaihaʻa from the canoe to making model canoes.  


Navigation Workshops and Presentations

NKW also offers workshops and presentations on non-instrument navigation and way-finding. During these workshops, learners are introduced to the star compass,

the one used by Papa Mau Piailug as well as the one adapted by Nainoa Thompson and the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

They are also introduced to the four major star-lines used in Hawaiian navigation and the elements used for navigation.  

Please email us through our contact page or call us for more information on how you and your

community can participate in our programs.

Sailing Programs

Sailing programs with NKW range in length and design from day sails out of Kawaihae harbor to week-long sails up and down the coast of Hawaiʻi Island. Learners must successfully complete a  500-meter swim and forty-five minutes of

treading water swim test in order to sail.  The swim test is not only a measure of physical endurance but also of mental endurance as the group only moves as fast as the slowest swimmer, and always together. Sailing programs have been instrumental in the development of young individual’s

personal development and community building abilities.


Drydock Programs   

Drydock is an essential part of the holistic nature of canoe culture. During drydock, learners are exposed to the importance of vessel maintenance. Through drydock

programs NKW emphasizes the Hawaiian value of Mālama,

to take care of.  Participants have the opportunity to learn

lashing, vessel engineering, and other tasks related to maintaining the sea-going integrity of Makaliʻi. 

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