Faculty Greet Hōkūleʻa Halfway Across the World

Punahou Communications Staff

December 2, 2015

As part of the Mālama Kumu program, six Punahou educators traveled to meet up with Hōkūlea and its crew in South Africa. The visit to Cape Town marked the halfway point of the Worldwide Voyage, an important stop in Hōkūlea’s journey. The small group of teachers joined a larger group of 60 people, 30 with the Mālama Honua Education Team and an additional 30 with the Polynesian Voyaging Society Hawai'i delegation.

The collaboration of Hawaiʻiʻs private and public schools brought together educators to lead and facilitate Mālama Honua lessons for Waʻa Talks in Cape Town.  (con.)
The collaboration of Hawaiʻiʻs private and public schools brought together educators to lead and facilitate Mālama Honua lessons for Waʻa Talks in Cape Town. (con.) Left to right, front row: Anna Liem, Megan Kawatachi (ʻIolani School) and Chai Reddy; back row: Matt Martinson, Lauren Medeiros, Malia Ane, Katja Rockstroh (Two Oceans Aquarium) Kylee Mar, Michelle Knoetgen (ʻIolani School) and Diane Tom­Ogata (Farrington School.)

Before departing, the kumu representing Punahou immersed themselves in the canoe’s voyage, learning chants and planning lessons to bolster the educational mission of Mālama Honua.

“There's something mysterious, exciting and powerful about Hawai‘i's connection to Hōkūle'a – even when she's the farthest away that she can possibly be,” said Chaplain Lauren Buck Medeiros, who joined the venture. South Africa is near Hawai'i’s antipode, exactly opposite to the Hawaiian Islands’ spot on the globe.

During their eight-day stay in Cape Town, Punahou teachers engaged with local students, offering dockside lessons and visiting schools in the area in collaboration with the Polynesian Voyaging Society. Faculty also learned about the culture of the region, participating in ceremonies, including one honoring Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The teachers kept in touch with students at Punahou despite the 12-hour time difference. Medeiros joined the second- and third-grade chapel virtually from dockside next to the Hōkūleʻa. Among her descriptions of South Africa were sightings of elephants, rhinos and zebras – much to the excitement of Junior School students.

From the “chicken skin” moment witnessing Hōkūleʻa sail into the harbor to the looks on students' faces when shown the path Hōkūle'a has traveled, the group’s adventures and impressions are catalogued in their teacher trip log. View the entries and photos here.

“We will forever be touched by this experience,” said Director of Hawaiian Studies Malia Ane ’72.

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