Mālama Kumu in South Africa

November 21, 2015

Waʻa Talks, a collaborative effort of Hawaiʻi teachers, inspired and motivated by Hōkūlea and the Worldwide Voyage culminated its fall 2015 schedule in Cape Town, South Africa. Two Oceans Aquarium was the host of Waʻa Talks: Cape Town on Saturday, November 21. Teachers representing Hawaiʻi private and public schools met with approximately 2,000 aquarium visitors and members leading, singing and running Mālama Honua activities.

Three separate stations were set­up at the aquarium and Hōkūleʻa conducted simultaneous canoe tours. Two Oceans Aquarium Managing Director, Dr. Pat Garrett, enthusiastically expressed his appreciation for the education work of the Polynesian Voyaging Society. "When will we ever have Hawaiʻi at our aquarium? This is our pleasure!"

At the Atlantic Ocean Gallery, Malia Ane and Lauren Medeiros serenaded patrons with an ukulele medley of songs about our oceans and our beloved canoe Hōkūleʻa. Children pieced together a waʻa model and used globes to understand the 23,000 km distance between Hawaiʻi and Cape Town.

The Predator Exhibit station invited participants to string lei out of yarn or straw/paper flowers. Diane Tom­Ogata (Farrington HS – and Punahou alumna), Megan Kawatachi (ʻIolani School) and Matt Martinson distributed handmade Worldwide Voyage postcards created by PUEO Program scholars in partnership with the Honolulu Museum of Art School.

At the Gyre Mural near the Penguin Exhibit, Michelle Knoetgen (ʻIolani School) and Anna Liem shared the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biologyʻs Oikonos Project, “Ocean Literacy through the Eyes of an Albatross.” Display items highlighted the effects of marine debris on the albatross population throughout the Pacific.

Thomas Mtontsi, Education Officer for South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON) brought twenty students from various Cape Town neighborhoods to connect with the waʻa (canoe) and learn more about Hawaiʻi and our ocean connections. Speaking in isiXhosa to his students, Thomas translated the stories of crew member, Timmy Gillom about the various parts and functions of the waʻa. Mtontsi has committed to Hawaiʻi teachers to be an available expert and future video conference contributor to Hawaiʻiʻs students, even with the 12­hour time difference.