The excitement is growing for Hokulea’s homecoming at Magic Island Saturday.
Thousands are expected to greet Hawaii’s iconic canoe, as well as several others from across Hawaii and the Pacific.
In the hands of many, there will be lei. A lot of lei.
In preparation, a room at Queen’s Medical Center has been transformed into a lei-making shop.
“Today, we have started making lei for the return of Hokulea, using lai ti leaves from our homes and ti leaves from the grounds here at Queen’s, just putting our mana into them and wishing them all their best on their homecoming,” said Diane Paloma, director of Native Hawaiian health.
As a writer in creative services, Glee Stormont is used to using her hands. Today, she’s putting her toe to work, twisting the lai, the ti leaf, for the canoe she first saw 41 years ago.
“I remember the Hokulea’s very first journey,” she said, “and that Queen’s can be a part of this is wonderful.”
David Guinner, the hospital’s landscape design and maintenance manager, says many of the lai are approaching 100 years old, and Queen’s often uses them for special occasions.
“It’s very exciting,” Guinner said, “but this is the first time that we’ve really been able to provide anything to something so significant as this.”
As for how many ti leaves will they be using, “we’re using about a thousand today, but we’re planning to do about a thousand every day up until Friday,” Guinner said.
Many other groups and organizations are holding lei-making sessions for Hokulea’s homecoming, including Aupuni Place at Ward Warehouse.
The first 20 people who come to the grand opening of the art exhibit “Kono Hiki” Friday between 6 and 8 p.m. will be able to participate in a workshop of lei-making.
Earlier on Friday, from 1-4 p.m., the public is invited to bring lei or bring supplies and make lei at an informal workshop at the Polynesian Voyaging Society at Honolulu Community College’s Marine Education Training Center on Sand Island.
The lei will adorn the homecoming area, for crew members, Hokulea, and the other canoes.
Some lei-makers can’t even be there, but their love and their lei will.
Stormont will be there too.
“I would really just mahalo them for spreading aloha to the world and for caring so much for our aina and our earth,” she said.
KHON2 will be airing Hokulea’s homecoming live on Saturday, June 17, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on our sister station, Hawaii’s CW. It will also be live-streamed on KHON2.com.
You can also watch a rebroadcast that night on KHON2 at 6:30 p.m.