LIHUE, Hawaii — After nearly two decades of construction, a replica Polynesian voyaging canoe has set sail from Kauai.

The Namahoe launched Sunday, marking what is believed to be the first Hawaiian voyaging canoe to set sail from the island in about five centuries, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported (http://bit.ly/2c5jFxp ).

“This is history in the making — so happy to be alive to watch this,” Puanani Rogers, a 77-year Kauai resident said as attended the launch. “This waa (canoe) gives me hope for the future, for our children, for our culture. That’s why this is epic for me.”

John Kruse, Dennis Chun and Pat Aiu have been working on Namahoe for 17 years with the help of grant money, volunteers and engineers

The 72-foot-long Namahoe is among the growing fleet of similar replica vessels to come from the Hawaiian islands in recent years. The best known of these ships is the Hokulea, which is currently on a three-year voyage around the world.

“You can’t have Hokulea on every island,” Polynesian Voyaging Society President Nainoa Thompson said Friday. “Each island has to have their own canoe, their own identity, their own voyage.”

Voyagers plan to embark on a journey around the island in Namahoe. The goal is to eventually sail Namahoe to Tahiti to coincide with the arrival of Hokulea.

Debbie Jackson, a Kauai taro farmer who went to see the Namahoe in the water, said she was hopeful her island’s canoe would go to good use.

“I see all the little kids running around (here),” Jackson said. “They’re the next generation coming up and they need to see the canoe coming in and the impact that it makes, the importance of sailing, the importance of navigation. Because Hawaiians are navigators.”


Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

VIAThe Associated Press
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