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March 2006

Hawai`i News

Nainoa Thompson and the Polynesian Voyaging Society

by Rochelle delaCruz

© Monte Costa

For more information about this photo, click here to contact the photograher

The Polynesian Voyaging canoe Hōkūle`a
Photo © Monte Costa

Everyone from Hawai`i knows who Nainoa Thompson is: the Hawaiian navigator who helped bring the ancient Polynesian tradition of wayfinding back from the brink of extinction.

Historians believe that over fifteen hundred years ago, people arrived on the isolated archipelago that is now Hawai`i from southern Pacific islands, first the Marquesas, and then Tahiti. They didn’t make only one single trip in double-hulled canoes over twenty-five hundred miles of ocean, but went back and forth between the North and South Pacific. In the old days, long before explorers like Magellan or Captain Cook, islanders were criss-crossing the Pacific using the stars, the ocean, the birds, the winds and other signs that elude the modern eye.

Over time and generations, these wayfaring skills were lost, but in the 1970s, Native Hawaiians began the recovery of language and culture in what is now referred to as the Hawaiian Renaissance. Nainoa Thompson was one of those interested in learning how to navigate the ocean the way his ancestors did and became a crew member of the Hōkūle`a, the first voyaging canoe to sail the twenty-five hundred miles of ocean back to Tahiti in 1976. Since then, voyaging canoes have sailed from Hawai`i to all points in the Polynesian triangle, west to Aotearoa (New Zealand) and east to Rapa Nui (Easter Island.)

In the 1970s, those who wanted to learn to navigate the old way set out to find teachers, but throughout the Pacific, there were only a few. These founders of the Polynesian Voyaging Society in their search to find a navigator, finally contacted a Micronesian, Mau Piailug from the island of Satawal who agreed to help them. At the time, there were six navigators living in Micronesia, still practicing their traditional skills between islands that had been left alone, mainly because they had no large lagoons that other nations coveted in order to park their battleships. With Mau’s help, the Hawai`i crew was able to learn to sail the voyaging canoes using the old ways. It was Mau who navigated the first voyage to Tahiti thirty years ago and then went on to teach the Hawaiian crewmembers. The irony is that today, Mau is the last remaining navigator in Micronesia where young people, now sent to schools on other islands, are not learning the ancient skills. According to Nainoa, Mau thinks that someday, it will be the Hawaiians who will be re-teaching the Micronesians the non-instrument voyaging techniques.

There are others in Hawai`i who have participated in this recovery of the tradition of voyaging canoes, but Nainoa Thompson is seen as the leader, the one who kept at it even when all seemed hopeless. He credits others, especially his father the late Myron “Pinky” Thompson, but many agree that it was Nainoa’s single-minded determination that has made the ancient art of Polynesian wayfaring a modern reality. There is now a Pacific-wide collaboration to provide the training and teaching of these non-instrument navigational skills, restoring connections and pride among the various island groups.

Nainoa Thompson refers to the islands linked by the canoes as the Polynesian Nation. Epeli Hau`ofa, a Tongan writer, calls the Pacific and all of its islands Oceania. The voyaging canoes remind us

© Monte Costa

For more information about this photo, click here to contact the photograher

that the islands in the Pacific Ocean and its people are not solitary entities, separated by the colonizing nations of the past two hundred years, but relatives who are re-establishing their ancient connections.

To read more about the Polynesian Voyaging Society, go to: www.pvs-hawaii.com.

On a Northwest note, a second canoe, Hawai`i Loa was built in the early 1990s in the traditional way, with two Sitka Spruce trees given by the Tlingit and Haida tribes of Alaska because Hawai`i’s forests have been depleted of the massive koa trees needed for the large canoes. In 1996, Hōkūle`a and Hawai`i Loa arrived in Seattle to begin their journey: Hōkūle`a sailed south along the Northwest coast to California to pay tribute to the many people from Hawai`i now living on the West Coast, and Hawai`i Loa went north to Alaska, to thank the Native Alaskans who donated the trees.







9th Circuit grants Kamehameha Schools’ petition for en banc review

HONOLULU (www.ksbe.edu) - The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed earlier today to rehear the legal challenge to Kamehameha Schools’ 118-year-old policy of offering admissions preference to applicants of Hawaiian ancestry. The rehearing, known as an en banc review, was granted by court order earlier today. Under the court’s order the case will be reargued on a date to be scheduled before a panel of 15 Ninth Circuit judges.

“We are pleased to be able to present our arguments to a larger court panel,” said Kamehameha Trustee-chair Robert Kihune. “It signals that the appeals court agrees that this lawsuit raises unique issues of exceptional importance to Native Hawaiians. We are a private school founded by a Native Hawaiian princess for the education of Native Hawaiians and funded entirely by the income from our land holdings and investments. We are hopeful that when the case is reheard the court will affirm the U.S. District Court decision and allow Kamehameha to continue todirect our resources to those children who are in need of our programs and are the intended beneficiaries of this trust.”

A three-judge appeals court panel overturned Kamehameha Schools’ admissions policy last August in a 2-1 decision. Schools officials immediately vowed to seek a rehearing. The schools’ petition for en banc review was supported by 12 amicus briefs filed by 44 individuals or organizations, including the State of Hawaii, the City and County of Honolulu, the National Association of Independent Schools and various Hawaiian service organizations and Royal Trusts.

The schools preference policy remains in effect pending the outcome of the appeal.

“The preference policy is critical to our ability to fulfill our educational mission and we are fully committed to the legal fight ahead,” said Kamehameha Schools CEO Dee Jay Mailer. “At the same time, we are moving forward with plans to extend our educational reach further into Hawaiian communities. We have already embarked on a plan to more than double the number of children we currently serve.

“We have committed $55 million dollars this year for community outreach programs that target Hawaiian keiki under the age of eight and their parents and caregivers. We are providing more support to preschools and other early childhood education programs. We have tailored our post-high scholarship programs to serve young mothers and others who are among the neediest in our population. We have provided more funding for charter schools with large Hawaiian students populations.

“Pauahi felt a kuleana to provide educational opportunities for the Hawaiian people. She entrusted that kuleana to the leadership of Kamehameha Schools. We will not let her down.”

Chairman Kihune added, “Kamehameha is an institution of exceptional importance to both Native Hawaiians and all of Hawai’i. The programs Kamehameha provides to Native Hawaiian children are intended to help remedy the continuing effects of past wrongs suffered by the Native Hawaiian people. Kamehameha has had great success helping Native Hawaiian children but much remains to be done, and the needs of Native Hawaiian children far outstrip Kamehameha’s ability to provide needed services. Last year’s panel decision would have required Kamehameha to offer its programs to children who do not need them, while turning away Native Hawaiian children who need access to Kamehameha’s programs.”

Established in 1884 through the last will and testament of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, Kamehameha Schools operates K-12 campuses on O’ahu, Hawai’i and Maui and 32 preschool sites statewide. Thousands of other learners are also being served through a range of educational outreach programs and community collaborations throughout the state.

Moloka`i  Strongman Showing the Way

By Darrell Williams

Photo by Brennan PurtzerWith the sort of facilities that compare to that of the original Gold’s Gym in Venice California, Moloka`i's Peter Pale is leading by example to promote an emerging strongman scene on the island. The 33-year-old Pale took the first ever Moloka`i strongman event in 2005, finishing in first place in every discipline. A born and bred native of Moloka`i, Pale works at the Na Pu`uwai fitness center, the only gym currently on the island.

Without all the sophisticated machines that mainland competitors have the privilege of using, it's not easy for Moloka`i athletes to compete at the highest level. Pale said he is seeing increased interest within the youth of the Island since his strongman win. "We need to get the young ones coming through," he said.

Pale also competed in the Hawaiian Makahiki games of 2006, where he finished first in the Decathlon. Unlike winning Mr. Olympia, where the prize money can mean financial security for life, Pale's prize was a Samoan Crab, and two mullet – the first to be produced by a newly restored ancient fishpond on the East End of Moloka'i.

A very humble family man, Pale has no thoughts of taking his strength and power to the next level.
"I too old," he said, preferring to encourage the young ones to get involved with the discipline of weight training.

As he said at the strongman contest "I thank you everybody, now start working out alright!"


Lahainaluna Celebrates 175 Years!

Lahainaluna, the “Oldest School West of the Rockies ” was founded by missionaries in 1831 as a seminary boarding school for men on the island of Maui. According to its website, the goal of Lahainaluna from the beginning was “to educate and prepare its students to a way of life in the community, the state and the nation.”

In 1849, the Hawaiian government took over the school from the American Board of Mission. In 1923, it went coed and became a public technical school and finally in 1961, Lahainaluna became a comprehensive public high school for boarders and day students.

Lahainaluna is celebrating its 175 years as one of the oldest schools in the United States, beginning with an Open House and class parade on April 7th and lū`au on the 8th. For more information, write to Lahainaluna 175th Anniversary, P.O. Box 1684, Lahaina, Hawaii 96767, call the school office at (808) 662-4000 or email: lunafound@mauigateway.com.

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