HōkÅ«le‘a Departs Am. Samoa, Sails To SIDS Conference In Apia

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Hōkūle‘a Departs Am. Samoa, Sails To SIDS Conference In Apia Worldwide voyage supports ocean health, sustainability

By Jeff Hayner

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Sept. 2, 2014) – A farewell ceremony was held last Friday for the traditional Polynesian sailing vessel Hokule’a and its crew, and on Saturday morning they departed the territory headed for Apia, Samoa. Originally, the Hokule’a was scheduled to leave on Friday, but due to bad weather, it was forced to wait one more day. During the Friday ceremony, youth members from the Nu’uuli Methodist Church sang farewell songs.

The Hokule’a left with its modern canoe/ guide Hikianalia as they headed to Samoa to join the United Nations Small Island Developing States Conference being held Sept. 1 through Sept. 4, as part of a larger partnership promoting environmental sustainability and ocean health for islands around the world.

[PIR editor’s note: Talamua reported that ‘Hokulea and her sister escort canoe Hikianalia took some special guests for a sail Monday in Apia, Samoa, including United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and Palau President Tommy Remengesau Jr. ... "People often say we are in the same boat," Ban Ki-moon said during a conference. "I would say we are all on the same small island on the same small planet Earth; this is like a small boat in the universe."’]

The Hokule'a captain, Nainoa Thompson, who is the first modern-day Polynesian to learn and use ancient methods of way-finding for long-distance, open-ocean voyaging, thanked the children and the church members for their prayers and songs. He said that it was important to have faith in God on their journey, and his words were followed by a traditional Hawaiian chant of thanks and farewell by the crew members.

American Samoa's representative on the Hokule’a for the trip to Samoa is Junior Rex Lokeni, who is a volunteer at the Ocean Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. "Thank you American Samoa for all of the support. It is an honor to represent the people of American Samoa," Lokeni told Samoa News.

"This is a great opportunity for me and for our people to connect back to our roots. I'm very humbled and thankful for the opportunity as I am very prepared for this trip," he said.

To prepare himself, Lokeni said that he had to "mentally connect to the ‘mother’ canoe (Hokule’a) to find my way back to ancient times."

"Our forefathers used to navigate the Pacific without any modern technology. Now, mentally, that is the most challenging part, trying to make that leap back in history," he explained.

He said that the physical part is easy because the Polynesian people are strong and active people, but the hardest thing is finding peace on land and then making your way back to the ocean and finding peace with everything there.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the people who supported me and the folks from National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. I would also like to say thank you to a very special friend of mine, Zero Iaulualo from the American Samoa Aquatics Agency. He has helped me out a lot, especially with the physical part such as the swimming and water safety. This whole event has been a great adventure," he said.

Samoa News notes early reports of the Hokule’a trip to Samoa from the Territory mentioned Lt. Gov. Lemanu P. Mauga as one of the crew/ passengers. However, during Friday’s farewell ceremony, there was no mention of Lemanu as leaving with the Hokule’a, only Lokeni’s participation.

The Hokule’a is a traditional double-hulled canoe featuring only a sail that is pushed by the wind and ocean currents. The vessel has no nails, no screws and was built without any hammers, but is held together by six miles of lines (ropes). It sails using traditional methods including celestial navigation and using birds and whales as route markers.

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