In June 1976, half the island of Tahiti migrated to the shores of Papeete in anticipation of Hokulea’s arrival.
An estimated 17,000 people awaited the first Polynesian voyaging canoe to sail the ancient pathway from Hawaii to Tahiti in 600 years, guided in the ancient way by nature’s clues.
Hokulea and her crew proved the ancient wisdom and skill of their ancestors, and moved Tahitians to the core.
“Hokulea, basically for us, she means a lot of hope and also the renaissance, not only in navigation but also in reviving our sense of kuleana and of pride in ourselves,” said Matahi Tutavae of Tahiti Voyaging Society.
Tutavae spoke with KHON2 from Rangiroa. He sailed in on one of Hokulea’s offsprings, Tahiti’s voyaging canoe Faafaite, to see Hokulea and Hikianalia.
“For a lot of us, actually it’s actually the first time that we see her in reality like that, so it’s wonderful,” Tutavae said.
“I think we’re ready and it seems that Tahiti is going to have a lot in store. It’s going to be a busy schedule, but it’ll be a whole new kind of energy, I think, and I think everyone is going to be ready for that,” Hokulea apprentice navigator Jenna Ishii said.
Not as many people are expected Sunday as in 1976, but a large crowd is expected for a ceremony at sea scheduled at 3 p.m. and a ceremony at shore at 3:30 p.m., planned by the Tahitians.
“It’s looking like it’s turning into a national event. It’s a huge event now,” Ishii said. “But they’re going to celebrate Hokulea. I think they’re honoring her. They’re giving her the highest honor that the nation can give.”
“I don’t know how many people will attend the welcoming ceremony, but I do know that a lot of cultural ngos (non-governmental organizations) will be there to pay respect to Hokulea and Hikianalia and most of all to the message of Malama Honua,” Tutavae said.
One week from Sunday, Tutavae says the beach in Papeete, where Hokulea first landed, will be officially renamed Hokulea Beach.