Saturday, 28 February 2015

The Worldwide Voyage ~ The Hōkūle‘a in Aotearoa

' Au i ke kai me he manu ala '  -  ' Cross the sea like a bird '
  Hawaiian voyaging proverb

Captain and Master Navigator - Kālepa Baybayan (right) with crew member Wati Forbes
                                                                                                                               Photo: Michele Sainsbury

~The bow of the Hōkūle‘a points towards Mauao - Mount Maunganui.
 The mountain landmark graces the Tauranga harbour, where a statue of 
Tangaroa the God of the moana – the sea, guards the entrance towards Tauranga.

It is fortunate to have been a port of call for the much celebrated Hōkūle‘a, now into the first year of an epic Worldwide Voyage. A national treasure in Hawai'i, she has become a cultural icon since her beginnings in 1975, when what began as a research project, has ensured a re-connection with Hawaiian cultural heritage and powerful maritime voyaging traditions.
The design based on the Polynesians primary voyaging craft with two hulls and lashed crossbeams, is known as wa'a kaulua in Hawaiian and waka hourua in Māori.

                                                                                                                                 Carving detail on Hōkūle‘a
                                                                                                                                 Photo : Michele Sainsbury
Hōkūle‘a is the Hawaiian word for the zenith star - Arcturus, a vital navigational star for ancient voyagers. Her oceanic journeys, achieved through the skilled expertise of navigation based on traditional way-finding methods - the reliance on acute observation of natural environmental indicators, are also grounded in science and incorporate oceanography.

Among her positive contributions is a renaissance of voyaging, sparked throughout the Pacific.     A chance to turn 'myth and legend into reality',* and an embodiment of a return to a more holistic and respectful environmental approach for peoples all around the world. Most recently the MUA voyage to the IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney Australia, was attended by a Pacific based voyaging fleet.

Crew member Nakua blowing the conch shell
                                   Photo : Michele Sainsbury 
Ocean preservation is a message the Worldwide Voyage will carry.
 Mālama Honua, 'to care for our Island earth' is a four year undertaking encompassing 47,000 nautical miles and will soon involve the Hōkūle‘a leaving the Pacific for the first time.
 On board is an environmental stewardship pledge which UN Secretarial General – 
Ban Ki Moon has signed, when the Hōkūle‘a was en route through Samoa last year.

Tauranga's Māori translation means - resting place or anchorage, but the crew work busily with local communities to spread their outreach work.
It's also the chance for them to connect with like minded peoples on the way.
' Learning from the communities we spend time with, teaches us too ', says Captain and Master navigator -  Kālepa Baybayan 
                                                                      Oranges and kamo kamo ( NZ heritage vegetable ) on board
                                                                                                                                  Photo : Michele Sainsbury 
Those who hear the Hōkūle‘a is in town show up and there is a steady stream of admirers to the marina. Expats from Hawai'i and locals, with varying connections. One of them has driven from out of town, and stepping on board can barely contain his amazement. When the Hōkūle‘a was last in New Zealand in 1985, during the voyage of rediscovery, he was waylaid by a storm sailing to Northland and missed the chance.
~The concept of using the whole waka as a compass is explained, at a mesmerizing
Mālama Honua presentation Kālepa Baybayan gives at nearby community based - Whareroa Marae. The incredible navigational  star compass demonstration is done by way of a large interactive star chart placed on the floor.

Kālepa stands in the centre of the compass and speaks of it being conceptual.
It is captivating to hear him explain the sea birds relationship with the horizon in relation to navigation, and the other vital clues used in navigation – where the sun rises and sets,  the stars and the moon and observing wind and wave patterns.

                                                          Leaving the Tauranga harbour, nearby Mauao – Mount Maunganui
                                                                                                                                  Photo : Michele Sainsbury 
When the Hōkūle‘a prepares to leave for Auckland the following morning, there are many well wishers at the marina. Joining on board, a prayer is said in Hawaiian. On the starboard side, a plaque pays permanent tribute to Eddie Aikau. His wish and vision to see Tahiti rising out of the sea, has been realized by the Hōkūle‘a, with celestial magnificence.
                                                                               Tribute to Eddie Aikau ~ The plaque on the Hōkūle‘a                                                                                                                              Photo: Michele Sainsbury
* The phrase' turning myth and legend into reality ' was said by Hoturoa Barclay – Kerr,
   in relation to the renaissance of Pacific voyaging.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

* The Aloha Spirit of Eddie Aikau *

Eddie Aikau on the mast of the Hōkūleʻa – Photograph by David Bettencourt
Image used with the very kind permission of the Eddie Aikau Foundation
Here lies one whose name was writ in water “ Jonn Keats

( Quote from the book ' Eddie Would Go ' by Stuart Holmes Coleman )

F licking through a surf magazine at a cafe in Auckland, New Zealand over a decade ago, I chanced upon a review of the book “Eddie Would Go” by Stuart Holmes Coleman.

The ripple effects of Eddie's inspirational life, continue to impact and influence me.
This was reaffirmed watching Stuart's insightful talk recently, at Wanderlust's Speakeasy , how in the journey of relaying Eddie's story, he spoke of 'the influence people can have on you unwittingly'.

The phrase 'Eddie Would Go' was inspired by the extraordinary courage he lived out. 
Setting a precedence in big wave surfing during the 1970's in Hawai'i, Eddie was famed for riding waves towering at twenty feet plus. As the first lifeguard at Waimea Bay on the Island of Oahu, he saved hundreds of lives.

He was also a humble person, with a strong moral compass he held fast to his strong personal values and sense of Ohana – family. Eddie was goodness and compassion, personified.

His commitment to the restoration of Hawai'ian cultural heritage, aligned him with the traditional ocean voyaging canoe - the Hōkūleʻa. Named after the star of gladness - Arctarus, the double hulled canoe, known in Hawai'ian as wa'a, had successfully completed a return voyage from Hawai'i to Tahiti - the ancient route of Polynesian migration - using traditional wayfinding techniques.                                          
Photo – Michele Sainsbury
When overwhelmed by challenging seas on the 1978 return voyage, in a final courageous act , Eddie would lay down his life to rescue his fellow voyagers from a distressed Hōkūleʻa.

Standing on the jetty in Okahu Bay in Auckland last month as I watched the Hōkūleʻa arrive along with a fleet of Pacific voyaging waka, my thoughts were with the Aloha spirit and legacy of Eddie Aikau. I thought of the renaissance in voyaging sparked by the Hōkūleʻa and reflected back to the point of chancing upon the review of Stuart's book – and my own navigation from then until now.                                                         

I dedicate my Finding Frangipani stories as a thank you – mahalo nui , to the continuing inspiration of Eddie – and to the central message of the Eddie Aikau Foundation, that 'There is good to be done'.

Aloha *

Hōkūleʻa in Auckland - December 2014
Photo – Michele Sainsbury

The Pacific voyaging fleet are greeted by the Māori waka - Kahakura ( Tainui )
Photo – Michele Sainsbury

Saturday, 16 August 2014