LIHUE — Crew members of the Hokulea voyage will be honored in recognition of its 40th anniversary.
The Hawaii House of Representatives said it’s planning to celebrate the members of the traditional Polynesian voyaging canoe that first launched from the sacred shores of Hakipuu-Kualoa in Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, on March 8, 1975.
The following year, the iconic canoe embarked from Hawaii to Tahiti and back as part of the bicentenniel celebration of American Independence. It demonstrated how Polynesian canoes and traditional navigational methods were up to the task of planned, long-distance voyaging.
Among the crew on the first leg of the journey, which embarked from Honolulu May 1, 1976, was John Kruse, of Koloa.
“When we built the canoe, it touched everybody,” he said. “Families would come to watch us work and be staring at the canoe, because to them, it was the embodiment of what their elders told them.”
Kruse remains a pillar of the canoe community on Kauai where he leads work on the Garden Isle’s own sailing canoe, Namahoe, and remains a force in the canoe-building ohana. He has a way of making nearly every sailing anecdote an adage. A Hawaiian treasure, Kruse has spent much of his life sailing and now continues to build sailing canoes as part of Kauai’s wayfinding legacy.
To him, he said voyaging means the world.
Since the voyage to Tahiti and back, Hokulea has completed nine voyages to Micronesia, Polynesia, Japan, Canada, and the United States, all using ancient wayfinding techniques of celestial navigation.
Other crew members of from the Hawaii to Tahiti leg of the journey were navigator Mau Piailug, Clifford Ah Mow, Shorty Bertelmann, Ben Finney, Tommy Holmes, Sam Kalalau, Boogie Kalama, Kawika Kapahulehua, Buffalo Keaulana, Dukie Kuahulu, David Lewis, Dave Lyman, Billy Richards, Rodo Williams.