Over 50 attend workshop on chants to greet Hokulea

PUHI — After a three-year voyage around the world, the Hokulea will be returning home Saturday at Oahu’s Magic Island.

Over 50 residents from around the island gathered at Kawaikini Public Charter School last week to learn traditional protocol and chants from kumu Malia Nobrega-Olivera to welcome home the Hokulea and crew.

The Queen Deborah Kapule Hawaiian Civic Club has been hosting workshops and training sessions around the state on traditional Hawaiian protocol, chants and songs in celebration of the canoe’s return.

“Culturally, it’s pono to greet travelers that have been gone for a year, especially if they’re respecting Hawaii on an international level, ” said Missy Kamai, who attended the Wednesday workshop. “I think it’s really important to welcome them home because they went places where they are really welcome and to learn something for when they come home, that’s gonna be awesome.”

D. Kaliko Santos, community outreach coordinator for the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs, said that people will be traveling from Kauai to Oahu for the celebration.

For two hours, Kamai and dozens of others were taught how to properly greet the Hokulea and its crew. Nobrega-Olivera couldn’t believe how many people turned out to learn.

“I’m definitely pleasantly surprised,” she said. “It’s just exciting because it shows the excitement here on Kauai just to be a part of the welcoming back of Hokulea to Hawaii after three years of being around the world.”

As she watched people look for seats around the classroom — some were resigned to standing up against the wall or sitting on the floor — Nobrega-Olivera knew the thirst for Hawaiian tradition and practices still thrives on Kauai.

“I’m definitely encouraged,” she said. “This is exactly what the organizers, from the (Polynesian) Voyaging Society or even Kamehameha Schools who helped organize the trainings of the protocol, they really wanted us to become the leaders and get out into the community and share it with our families and young ones, just to share it with anyone who wanted to be a part of this. It’s really exciting.”

‘Alohilani Rogers, academic director at Kawaikini Public Charter School, said getting people involved on Kauai is important even if they don’t travel to Oahu to greet the Hokulea.

“I went to one of the workshops so I could help teach Kauai people and anyone who wanted to go learn and help organize it on the island,” Rogers said. “It’s really important because this is the base for our own canoe, Namahoe. A lot of people on Kauai have been working on it, so we can be a big support for them.”

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