HAWAIIAN VOYAGING CANOE MAKALI‘I ARRIVES IN MAJURO, MARSHALL ISLANDS

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By Giff Johnson

MAJURO, Marshall Islands---(March 4, 1999 - Marshall Islands Journal)---The Hawaiian voyaging canoe Makali‘i arrived in Majuro Wednesday, successfully completing the first segment of the canoe's historic journey through Micronesia.

The twin-sail, 54 foot double hull canoe ran into rough weather late last week and over the weekend which delayed its arrival by several days. But the crew was fine after the more than 2,000 mile journey from Hawai‘i that was done completely by traditional navigation methods, with Hawaiian navigator Shorty Bertelmann guiding the canoe from Hawai‘i to Majuro by the stars and wave patterns just as islanders did a thousand years ago.

Many of the crew on board are very young, a second generation of sailors trained by Hawaiian navigators and sailors who were themselves students of famed Micronesian navigator Mau Piailug -- who is onboard the Makali‘i.

The trip was designed for Mau, "who unselfishly gave his time for more than 20 years to teach us the art of navigation," Clay Bertlelmann, an organizer of the voyage who has sailed on the Hokule‘a and other voyaging canoes, said in Majuro today.

The ship's navigator, Shorty Bertelmann, was Mau's first student in 1975, according to brother Clay. "Mau came to teach us and now his students are taking him home," he said.

Clay Bertelmann said that the Makali‘i trip through Micronesia is truly an historic occasion. "In our history, there is nothing about people coming this direction," he said. But, he noted, Kapingamarangi in the Federated States of Micronesia is a Polynesian island, though it isn't known from where it was settled.

"If it wasn't for Mau, we wouldn't be coming to Micronesia," he said. "We're reconnecting with our cousins in Kapingamarangi and fulfilling our commitment to Mau."

He pointed out that as Mau agreed to come to Hawai‘i and spend his time to teach navigation to Hawaiians, there was a reciprocal commitment from his Hawaiian students. "Our commitment is that what we've learned we share with others," Bertelmann said.

In Hawai‘i, prior to Mau's arrival in 1975, though there was still knowledge of navigation among Hawaiian elders, it wasn't being shared, he said.

Because of customs dictating that these special skills be passed on only to blood relatives or someone special who is worthy of the skill and knowledge, the knowledge was going to the grave with many of Hawai‘i's elders, he said. "When Mau started teaching, he opened the doors to learning the art of navigation," he said. But in coming to Hawai‘i from the outside to share something that was almost lost, he also "opened the eyes of the elders to share their knowledge" leading to the rebirth of ocean voyaging among Hawaiians.

The Makali‘i will be in Majuro until the weekend, before departing for Kosrae in the Federated States of Micronesia.

MARSHALL ISLANDS JOURNAL Box 14, Majuro, Marshall Islands 96960 E-mail: journal@ntamar.com Fax: 692-625-3136 Tel. 692-625-8143 Subscriptions (weekly): 1 year: US $87.00; International $227.00 (air mail)

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