Kenneth P. Emory
[Note: On March 8, 1975, below the peak of Kanehoalani ("Kane, Heavenly Companion") and the broad cliffs of Mo'o Kapu o Haloa ("Sacred Section of Haloa") at the north end of Kane'ohe Bay, Hokule'a slid down a coconut log ramp and floated calmly at sea. The site in Kualoa Regional Park in windward O'ahu, at the border of the ahupua'a of Kualoa and Hakipu'u, was chosen for the launching because of its importance to the voyaging traditions of Hawai'i. Kualoa was the home of the voyaging chief La'amaikahiki ("Sacred One from Tahiti"), and Hakipu'u was the home of the voyaging chief Kaha'i, perhaps La'amaikahiki's grandson.
Herb Kane says "the launching festivities and lu'au for 2,000 was entirely done by volunteers, led largely by Paige Barber. Eddie Kamae and the Sons of Hawaii donated entertainment as did a hula halau." The following notes by Kenneth P. Emory describe the ceremonies and chants used for its launching. Emory was an anthopologist for the Bishop Musuem and a member of the Board of Directors of the Polynesian Voyaging Society. He and Hawaiian scholar Mary Kawena Puku'i were consultants to those who planned and carried out the launching ceremony.]
After the feather pennant and wooden image were secured to the canoe, the canoe on its lona (blocks), decorated with maile, 'ie'ie and Tahitian ti, was ready for the launching.
During the blowing of the conch shells, Herb Kane, Ben Finney and Kenneth Emory mounted the pola (deck); the steersmen, paddlers and Sam Ka'ai seated themselves on the beach between the imu and the canoe. The captain was Herb Kawainui Kane; the kahuna was Ka'upena Wong, assisted by Kalena Silva and Keli'i Tau'a, and kahu Kaupu.
Ka'upena Wong, Kalena Silva, Keli'i Tau'a and kahu Kaupu walked in the direction of the canoe. Kahu Kaupu stopped the group and offered a prayer to the Almighty.
The four continued their walk; Kalena and Keli'i took their positions at the imu and kahu stood in the shade of some trees. Ka'upena, coconut shell filled with seawater in hand, performed the pi kai (sprinkling of the seawater to purify) the canoe and paddlers as he uttered the words: "E kia'i, e alaka'i, e ho'ona'auao, e ho'olanakila, a pae ka wa'a i ke kula me ka lanakila." ("Guide, keep safely (the canoe) until the shore is reached safely.")
Ka'upena drank from the coconut shell before pouring the remaining seawater into the ocean.
Kalena and Keli'i proceeded to open the imu. Taking the cooked food from the imu, Kalena prepared a food offering-pieces of the pig's snout, tail and four feet, a piece of meat, one of the fishes, a banana-and placed them on a coconut-leaf platter covered with a section of banana leaf and 'awa leaves. The platter of food was given to Ka'upena.
Kalena and Keli'i now served the paddlers. After all were served Ka'upena and Kalena walked to the canoe; Ka'upena mounted the pola and received the food offering from Kalena. On the pola Ka'upena faced Herb, Ben and Kenneth. Herb said:
Ka'upena, food offering in hands, chanted [This chant can be found in an article written by Kalokuokamaile called Kala'i Wa'a ana a Me Kona Mau Ano, published in the Nupepa Kuokoa from Oct. 26-1922-Feb. 15, 1923. The chant is in the February 8, 1923 issue.]:
After the chant, Ka'upena left the pola and joined Kalena, Keli'i and paddlers at the imu. All ate the food prepared for them. In addition the paddlers drank coconut water. The eating pau Kalena and Keli'i collected the remains from the imu and platters and placed them into a coconut-leaf basket. They weighted the basket with a few imu rocks and tied it up with cord. Kalena and Keli'i carried the basket to Ka'upena who had mounted the pola. Ka'upena placed the food remains in the ti-thatched shelter on the pola. From the pola he shouted to the paddlers: "E ho'omakaukau!" ("Make ready!")
Herb ma, Ka'upena, Kalena, Keli'i, and paddlers took their positions to launch the canoe. Master of Ceremonies Moroni Medeiros invited all males in the audience to help pull the ropes for the launching of Hokule'a. With a signal from Herb, Ka'upena called out: "E alu like!" ("Let's all work together!")
Ka'upena began the hauling chant and was to be joined by the paddlers, encouraged by Kalena and Keli'i:
Hokule'a, anxious to be in her new home, was in the water seconds after Ka'upena chanted the first "Kiauau."
With Hokule'a majestically occupying her place in the water and receiving pats and shouts of joy from her admirers, Herb ma, and the paddlers scrambled aboard the handsome canoe. In the din of excitement, with Hokule'a's swift entry into the water, Ka'upena, Kalena and Keli'i waited, then walked down the beach to the water's edge. Here Ka'upena began to chant a couple of times but decided to stop because of the activity on and surrounding the canoe. Ka'upena, Kalena and Keli'i, ti stalks in hand, mounted the pola. Herb gave instructions to take the canoe out. As Hokule'a moved gracefully out to sea, Ka'upena sat down and chanted [From Malo, 129. The meaning of "kuwa," which appears in the first six lines is uncertain. Emerson, the translator and annotator of Malo, suggests "uplifter," from "ku" ("upright") and "wa" ("space"). See his note 14 on page 134.]:
During the trip out Hokule'a appeared to welcome all aboard by responding to Herb, the steersmen, paddlers. The feeling was good.
After it was some distance from shore, Herb directed that Hokule'a be turned around. He reminded everyone that when the food remains were given to the sea, no one should turn to look back. Kalena and Keli'i threw the basket overboard and the crew began to paddle Hokule'a back to shore. Ka'upena, Kalena and Keli'i moved up front and sat down. Together Ka'upena and Kimo Hugho worked out the rhythmic pattern for the next chant. About halfway in, Ka'upena began the chant; and he was joined by Kalena, Keli'i, the Kamehameha School chanter-paddlers, and Kimo ma:
This chant was accompanied by the striking of the paddles against the sides of the canoe. Instructions for the chant rhythm were as follows: "The stroke is slow. The paddle is struck a little in front of the paddler on the return of the paddle. The timing is thus: Ia wa'a (thump) nui (thump), ia wa'a (thump) kioloa (thump), ia wa'a (thump) peleleu (thump)."
As Hokule'a neared the shore Ka'upena called for the chanting, to end with: "A pae i kula!" ("Land ashore!")
Ka'upena left the pola and announced to all: "'amama, ua noa!" ("The prayer is said, the kapu is over!")
Then he turned to Hokule'a and asked: "Pehea ka wa'a, pono anei?" ("How is the canoe, is it good?")
All aboard answered: "'Ae, maika'i loa ka wa'a Hokule'a!" ("Yes, the canoe Hokule'a is indeed very good!")
Ka'upena turned to kahu Kaupu, who had walked down to greet Hokule'a and her crew, and he said: "Eia ka wa'a e ho'opomaika'i ia." ("Here is the canoe in your care for a Christian blessing.") Kahu Kaupu, in celebration, offered a prayer:
At the completion of Kahu Kaupu's prayer, he and Ka'upena embraced. Kahu was embraced by Kalena and Keli'i, the paddlers, Herb ma. Everyone felt good, proud. It was time for the lu'au, hula, songs, music, beer, talk-story.