Canoe Building


Canoe Life

Polynesian Migrations

Spring 1995: Na 'Ohana Holo Moana
Ceremonies at Taputapuatea, Ra'iatea (Mar. 7-29)

Photo right: The marae at Taputapuatea, Ra'iatea

March 7, 6 a.m. HST

photo of the marae at Taputapuatea, Ra'iatea Voyaging canoe Makali'i was last reported at 14 degrees, 45' N, 149 degrees, 23' W. at 7 p.m. on March 5. Makali'i wss then 443 miles from Hilo, and 1936 miles from Tahiti, travelling at 3 knots in a southerly direction. The canoe is being escorted by "Good Wind" captained by Terry Causey.

The crew hopes to reach Ra'iatea by March 18 to particpate in the rededication of the marae of Taputapuatea. It needs to travel an average of about 140 miles a day (about 6 knots) to make it there on time. The canoe left Hilo on February 28.

March 11, 3:45 a.m. HST

Change in Sail Schedule for Voyage Back to Hawai'i:

March 21: Canoes will go directly from Taha'a to Tautira, without stopping in Pape'ete. (Escort boats may refuel at Pape'ete.)

March 23-27: Arrival in Tautira; ritual of the Pohaku; change of crews; maintenance and repairs; possible visit to Taputapuatea at Tautira.

March 27: Departure to Taiohae, Nukuhiva (Moved up from March 29).

April 10-13: Gathering of canoes in Taiohae; Traditional welcome, Ritual of the Pohaku; last crew changes, departure ceremonies.

April 13: Departure for Hawai'i (moved up from April 17). No changes in dates in Hawai'i. Apparently the schedule was changed to give the canoes more time to reach Hawai'i safely.

Makali'i Report

As of 5 p.m., March 10, Makali'i was at 9 degrees 3'N, 144 degrees 40' W, heading south. It made about 71 miles in the last 24 hours. It may be in doldrum conditions; speed at 6 a.m. March 10 was 1 knot. On Thursday, March 9, Chad Paishon reported low strato cumulus clouds and confused seas, two signs of doldrum conditions. He said the only discomfort so far has been being wet all the time.

The crew spotted a pod of dolphins that seems to inhabit the northern edge of the doldrum area, between 9-10 degrees north. Navigator Shorty Bertelmann reported seeing the pod on the trip south in 1992; Mau Piailug first discovered the pod on his voyag es south (1976, 1980, and 1985), and told Bertelmann to look for this sign as a clue to location.

Makali'i, like Hokule'a and Hawai'iloa, has been catching more than enough fish (mainly mahimahi) and has stopped fishing. The crew is using both modern and traditional lures. Traditional trolling lures were made from pearl shell, with pig bristles to mimic the fins and tail of a small fish. The canoe is carrying traditional food plants south as well: kalo, niu (coconut), kukui, and puakenikeni, a shrub believed to have come from the Marquesas.

Makali'i is the name of one of navigators of Hawai'iloa, the fisherman/voyager who is said to have discovered and settled Hawai'i. The star cluster called Pleiades in the West was named after him. This cluster travels over the building in Waimea, Big Is land, where the canoe was built.

Report on Cook Island Canoes

Takitumu, built for the 1992 Festival of Canoes in Rarotonga, was under tow to Huahine, about 170 miles east out of Rarotonga. Te Au o Tonga had just been launched the day before (March 8) on Rarotonga. The canoe was still being equipped. Sea trials wo uld begin once the canoe was ready. It has a week and a half to make the ceremony on Ra'iatea on March 18.

March 8, 7 a.m. HST

As of 7 a.m. yesterday, the voyaging canoe Makali'i was at 13 degrees 48'N, 149 degrees 11'W.

In the last twelve hours (since 7 p.m. the night before) it made about 30 miles. It was traveling south at about 2 knots. It was 500 miles out of Hilo and 1879 miles from Tahiti.

On the morning of March 7, Clay Bertelmann reported that the canoe did not depart for Tahiti until all safety concerns were met; then the crew had to wait for the right winds. After departure, for the first four days, the canoe met with adverse south a nd southwest winds. For the last two days, the canoe was experiencing light NE trade winds at 5-10 knots.

Navigation is being done by Shorty Bertelmann and apprentice Chad Paishon. On the morning of the 7th, they estimated they were at 12 degrees 20' N, and 73 miles east of the reference course, about 575 miles out of Hilo. The North Star and Southern Cro ss have been helpful in navigating; The dominant swell is from the NE (trade wind swell), with a SW swell (from Kona storms west of Hawai'i) dying out.

Five fish caught so far.

Clay says that the 54 foot Makali'i is a fast canoe. It has a single mast (Hawai'iloa and Hokule'a have two masts). Its V-shaped hulls allows it to point higher into the wind than the two larger canoes can. Program Planned for March 18, 1995
Taputapuatea, Opoa, Ra'iatea

The canoes will meet beforehand in Fare, Huahine, Thursday, March 16, 1995 at the latest, for various formalities, maintenance, repairs, provisioning, and the decoration of the canoes. On Friday, March 17 the inauguration and reopening of the marae Taputa puatea will take place.

Toward 8 A.M. the canoes will enter the passage of Te ava mo'a, which will be marked with revareva (flags?) planted on the reef, respecting the following order of protocol:

  • Te Aurere, Te Aotearoa
  • Te Au o Tonga, Rarotonga
  • Takitumu, Rarotonga
  • Hawai'i Loa, Hawai'i
  • Hokule'a, Hawai'i
  • Makali'i, Hawai'i
  • A'a Kahiki-Nui, Tahiti
  • Tahiti Nui, Tahiti

    Raymond Graffe, aboard the canoe Te Vaka 'Uritaua, will greet them one by one. Pierre Sham Koua will proceed to a Pi'i (call) from the beach. Raymond then rejoins Pierre on the beach for the continuation of the ceremony.

    Each canoe will be at its determined place of anchorage (To'ahiva or Hotopuu).

    The crews will be dispatched towards the beach by a decorated barge, always in the same order of protocol as in the entry to the passage. Each group of crew members will go into the water, at around 50 meters from the bank, and will walk to the shore, pas sing by a marked corridor of ancient revareva flags.

    Maro Tai

    Before reaching firm ground, the crews will execute the ritual of the Maro Tai: Each member of the crew will deposit a small stone of coral that he will have brought with him from the lagoon. This gesture being an offering to Ruahatu and to Tane, gods of the Ocean.

    Pohaku, Toka, To'a

    After having reached firm ground, the crew will halt at the altar of the sacred stones Te Ahu Ti'araa Toa Mo'a, which is situated half-way into the great marae Taputapuatea. During this stop, each group of crew members will deposit its sacred stone on the altar, in the planned place, and will continue its route towards the marae. These stones will mark the passage of the canoes at Taputapuatea and will contribute to restore to the great marae of Taputapuatea its true place at the center of the Polynesian triangle as a place of International gathering of the peoples of the great Ocean.

    Aha Mo'a

    When all of the crews have taken their places on the great marae of Taputapuatea, the ritual of the Aha Mo'a will proceed. Each group will bring to this occasion a piece of (???) 90 cm. (3 ft.) long. (I think this is sleeping sennit, 'aha moa : Bishop Mus eum Bulletin 48, Ancient Tahiti, by Teuira Henry, mentions such a travel ritual involving a piece of sennit about 1 ft. long, first put under the outrigger of the canoe and then placed by a priest beneath a sacred slab, invoking the care of the gods on th e voyage.) It concerns a ritual that the crews in times past used to observe at the end of a long voyage. They used to come thus to the marae to thank the gods for their protection during the voyage. The aha mo'a was then buried under a stone of the surro unding wall of the marae, where it remained forever as an offering to the gods. This ritual will be observed at the occasion of the great gathering of the canoes at Taputapuatea.

    Inuraa 'Ava

    A ceremony of the Inuraa 'ava will conclude the ritual part of the gathering of the canoes. Considered in former times as a sacred drink for the gods and high priests, it was also the drink that sealed alliances and reconciliatlons between clans and peopl es. And it is precisely in the framework of the rehabilitation of the alliance Te Hau Faatau Aroha that this ceremony of the Inuraa 'ava is situated (rooted, takes place).

    'Oa 'oa Raa

    At the conclusion of the ceremony of the Inuraa 'ava the part consecrated to celebrations will begin. Each delegation will be able to express itself according to the established order of protocol. Oratory (public speeches), chants (songs), dances will fol low in the original language.

    At the end of the celebrations, Raymond Graffe and Pierre Sham Koua will take the stand (speak) to announce the end of the ceremonies before 3 P.M.

    Draft translation by BJ Short 1/31/95 Taputapuatea

    The arrival of the canoes at Taputapuatea forecasted for the year 1995 naturally directs each person to measure the importance of the event and to try to place it in the unfolding of our history. May these few reflections issued from a working group in th e heart of the department of traditions contribute to sustain (uphold) the effort of each person in the preparation of this encounter.

    1. A stone of Vaeara'l, called Te-Ra'i-Tuatini, was transported to Matahira point to found Tini-rau-mata-te-papa-o-Feoro, also called Vai'otaha. Hiro, the great navigator who wove the bonds of the great alliance, Te Hau Atea or Te Hau Faatau Aroha, made o f it the center of the meeting (reunion) and gave it the name of Taputapuatea.

    O Taputapuatea te marae, o Pupua te fenua,
    Ia farara mai ra te mata'i ra e Maraai,
    E Maraai fe'uti'uti no te tai roa i Pupua
    Te tahua Matatii Tahua Roa.

    2. Numerous canoes left from there (in the distant past) and some of them returned. Today, 8 canoes are preparing themselves to return to Taputapuatea:

  • Te Aurere, Te Aotearoa
  • Te Au o Tonga, Rarotonga
  • Takitumu, Rarotonga
  • Hawai'i Loa, Hawai'i
  • Hokule'a, Hawai'i
  • Makali'i, Hawai'i
  • A'a Kahiki-Nui, Tahiti
  • Tahiti Nui, Tahiti

    They will enter by Te Ava Mo'a, the passage which was made mo'a (sacred) at their departure:

    No 'oe i taimarahia ai o Ra'iatea
    Eiaha te auahi ia 'ama, eiaha te moa ia totara,
    Eiaha te 'uri ia 'aoa.

    3. It is the hour (time) for the meeting of the canoes. It is also the opportune moment to renew the vital bonds that unite all Polynesians. All have used the canoe to discover the island which would become their new 'ai'a (native country, according to Li brary's Tahitian dictionary).

    4. At the time of the unification of the fare metua (fare means house, metua means parents in Tahitian dictionary), all individuality will obliterate itself to put itself at the service of the whole family; each canoe that sets out again from Taputapuatea will be the messenger of the family.

    5. If symbolically Raiatea is the Father, who reveals the role of each one, Tahaa is the mother, who nourishes with Love. To recognize Tahaa, is to recognize the mother. It is there that Hiro received the teaching, close beside Faimano, his mother, and 'A na, his grandfather.

    6. The canoe contains the essential values that one wants to safeguard for the tere (voyage) towards the 21st century.

    7. The name of this tere (voyage) will reveal the poro'i (message), message destined for the children of the 21st century. The message will define the work to be done (accomplished) by the Maui of the future.

    Departure, traditions, September 1994/ Draft translation by BJ Short 2/1/95

    March 18

    The ceremonies for the gathering of the canoes and crews were held at the temple (marae) of Taputapuatea on the island of Ra'iatea. Six canoes attended: Te Aurere, Takitumu, Hokule'a, Hawai'iloa, and Tahiti Nui. A reed canoe built on Tahiti by the people of Rapanui (Easter Island) represented the SE corner of the Polynesian triangle. Two other canoes, Te Au o Tonga (Cook Islands) and Makali'i were still in route to join the fleet. The Maori canoe Te Aurere entered the sacred pass (Te Ava Moa) first in ord er to lift an old kapu placed on the pass after a Maori chieftain was slain on the marae over 600 years ago. Te Aurere is the first Maori canoe to visit the marae since that time.

    March 20, 1995, 5:30 a.m. HST

    Updated schedule: Departure date changed from April 17 to April 13 back to April 17.

    Last week the Bishop Museum announced a change in the date of departure from Nukuhiva, the Marquesas, from April 17 to April 13. The date was changed to give the canoes more time to make the May 10 gathering at Kalaupapa on Moloka'i. However, the departur e date was moved back to the original date of April 17 after it was learned that the government of the Marquesas had already declared a holiday to welcome the visiting canoes and to send them off with a traditional departure ceremony on April 17.

    Makali'i Update: Makali'i continues its voyage south. As of March 19, at noon, the canoe was at 3 degrees 19 ' S, 144 degrees 14' W. Radio communications have been spotty. A new radio was sent down with the Makali'i support team that left Hawai'i on March 17 (via Hawaiian Airlines) to attend the ceremonies at Taputaputaea.

    March 24, 1995, 5:10 a.m. HST

    Hokule'a and Hawai'iloa are in Tautira, Tahiti, for loading of supplies and crew change for the voyage back to Hawai'i via Nukuhiva. Departure scheduled for March 29.

    Tautira is a small town on the north side of the east end of Tahiti (called the Peninsula of Taiarapu, which juts out in a southeasterly direction from the main portion of the island). The Polynesian Voyaging Society and Hokule'a have a special relationsh ip with this town. The canoe first stopped there for festivities in 1976 on an around-the-island sail after the first successful voyage to Tahiti that year. Before the 1980 voyage, Puaniho Tauotaha, a master canoe-builder from Tautira made several canoes in Hawai'i and demonstrated the ancient art of canoe carving to interested members of the Voyaging Society. The Maire-nui Canoe Club of Tautira, once the champion of Tahiti, has raced in Hawai'i and some clubs in Hawai'i have adopted their training and ra cing techniques.

    Since then, the families of Tautira have hosted the voyaging crew twice: in 1987 and 1992.

    In 1987, the Hokule'a crew stayed in Tautira for three weeks waiting for the right winds to take Hokule'a to the Isles of Hiva (the Marquesas) and back to Hawai'i. The winds never shifted enough southerly or westerly for a sail to the Isles of Hiva, so n avigator Nainoa Thompson abandoned that planned and sailed directly back to Hawai'i. Getting to Nukuhiva this year may also be difficult, as this island lies to 720 miles to the NE. The normal SE tradewinds will push the canoes away from the Isles and tow ards Hawai'i as the canoes sail north.

    The plan is to sail as close to the wind as possible, to get as close to Nukuhiva as possible, then to tow the canoes in. If towing into the wind proves too stressful on the front crossbeams, the navigators might once again abandon plans to reach the Isle s of Hiva and instead sail directly to Hawai'i.

    Makali'i Update: The Waimea voyaging canoe Makali'i was reportedly at 11 degrees S, 146 degrees 20 minutes W as of 5 p.m. Thursday, March 23, about 240 miles north of the Tuamotus, and 400 miles north of Tahiti. ETA is Sunday March 26. The canoe will resu pply in Tahiti, then head back to Hawai'i with Hokule'a and Hawai'iloa.

    March 28, 1995. 6 a.m. HST

    Makali'i arrived in Tahiti yesterday. Its voyage took 28 days.

    Tentative departure date for Hokule'a and Hawai'iloa from Tautira, Tahiti, to Taiohae, Nukuhiva, is Saturday, April 1.

    March 29, 1995. 5 a.m. HST

    Departure date to Nukuhiva has been moved to Monday, April 3.