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KS students reconnected with their ancestral Polynesian heritage in Aotearoa (New Zealand). With tools and brushes in hand, the haumāna began the dignified task of cleaning and caring for their ancestral kiʻi named Māuipāmamao.

Wa‘a Wednesday: Staffers, students reenact history as part of Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage

Jan. 28, 2015

Contributed by Pakalani Bello

Wa‘a Wednesdays is a series of KSOnline stories about the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage and its relationship to Kamehameha Schools, the education sponsor of the voyage. Today’s piece recollects the recent journey taken by a delegation of KS students and staffers to Aotearoa, to reconnect with their ancestral Polynesian heritage.

The Historic Return to Aotearoa (New Zealand)
In 1985, a small delegation of Kamehameha Schools staff members and students were granted the privilege of greeting the Hawaiian voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa when it made landfall in historic Waitangi on the North Island of New Zealand.

Last November – nearly 30 years later – a delegation of 34 KS students and staff members stood along the same shore to greet Hōkūleʻa and its sister canoe Hikianalia as part of the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage. Together they reenacted the events of a generation ago, asserting a strong sense of tribal identity.

The group chanted as the intimidating 80-man war canoe, Ngātokimatawhaorua, carefully escorted the two Hawaiian waʻa (canoes) to land. Crew members were carried to shore on the shoulders of Māori warriors and the Hawaiian delegation chanted in spirited unison, “Auē, ua hiti ē!” Alas, we have come!

Eighteen high school haumāna (students) representing Kamehameha’s three campuses, together with K-12 faculty and staff members participated in wero (rituals of challenge) and pōwhiri (welcome ceremonies) as proud members of Ngāti Ruawāhia, the Sixth Tribe of Te Tai Tokerau – also known as the “Hawaiian Tribe.”  

This event provided a rare and profound opportunity for KS haumāna to explore their ancestral Polynesian heritage by engaging the world as their classroom, and letting real life experiences abroad be their teachers.

The Hawaiian-Māori Tribal Heritage
Hōkūleʻa’s 1985 landfall at Waitangi was the dream of master navigators Nainoa Thompson and Hekenukumai Puhipi (Hector Busby), also a renowned canoe builder and respected kaumātua (elder). 

The impressive welcome staged by Te Tii Marae leader Tupi Puriri served as a platform for the highest ranking elder of the region Sir James Tau Henare to publicly declare that the extended family of Hawaiʻi voyagers must be the “Sixth Tribe” of Te Tai Tokerau (the northern-most region of the North Island), having arrived on a traditional voyaging canoe like the other five tribes of the region had done centuries earlier. Hector Busby coined the name “Ngāti” meaning tribe, and “Ruawāhia,” the Māori term for the star Arcturus, better known as Hōkūleʻa.

Kamehameha Schools, a leading entity within the tribe, has kept the Ngāti Ruawāhia identity and traditions alive and vibrant for three decades.  It was a matter of kuleana that haumāna return to represent the Hawaiian tribe at this auspicious event as part of the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage.

Ancestral Duty
In 1992, a poupou (ancestral post) made of ‘ōhiʻa wood was crafted by Hawaiian carver William Puou of Kona and erected at Waitangi by Kamehameha Schools students and staff members and key Polynesian Voyaging Society leaders.

It was named Māuipāmamao (Māui the demi-god trickster who touches the farthest extremities), a reflection of the far-reaching Pacific-wide influence of the Hōkūleʻa, and the Māui-like ingenuity of Hawaiians’ seafaring forbears. 

Now, after some 22 years, the original lashing done by Thompson and KS haumāna was still tight and firm.  However, the image was weathered and lichen was growing where the wood had split.

With quiet pride, the haumāna approached the kiʻi with tools and brushes in hand and began the dignified task of cleaning and caring for their ancestral image, painting it a bold “Waitangi Red.”  And then they chanted the tribal mele, “E Ngāti Ruawāhia…me ka hā nui, ka hā loa, ka hā hoʻomau!”

An unplanned event was among the most inspirational for some of the haumāna. On the day before the arrival ceremony Ngātokimatawhaorua, the 130-foot war canoe, needed to be hauled out into the bay. KS students leapt at the chance to physically engage in this activity that honored their Māori hosts and affirmed their Hawaiian heritage.

“Every tug and pull I gave the kaula (rope) not only brought the wa‘a closer, but I was bringing myself closer to my culture,” said KSK senior Landon Luna.

KSK junior Alika Na‘auao Kahala-Guevara echoed Luna’s sentiment. “As I was pushing it in with everyone else, it made me realize how my love for the sea and for my culture is connected,” he said. “I was changed…”

Senior Jordan Gouveia expressed gratitude for the opportunity to reconnect with his culture. “It was at that moment when I realized all my blessings,” said Gouveia. “I’d never been so grateful in my life for everything Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop has given to me.”

Educational Travel and Professional Development
With daily prayer and nightly study halls, the KS Ngāti Ruawāhia delegation completed a rigorous 11-day cultural educational journey which included travel to Waikato to visit Māori educational institutions for professional discussions on indigenous curriculum and pedagogy, bilingual education, and KS Strategic Plan 2020 goals involving post-secondary success, native education networks, and Hawaiian identity.

As the story continues, learn about dynamic Māori school engagement in the next Waʻa Wednesday feature!  To follow the voyage, visit the Polynesian Voyaging Society website.

The KS Ngāti Ruawāhia Delegation

Randie K. Fong
VP Cultural Affairs, Hoʻokahua – tour coordinator

Julian Ako
KSK High School Principal – tour administrator

Jamie Fong
Kaʻiwakīloumoku Manager – tour manager

Kaleo Trinidad
KSK Hawaiian Ensemble Director – performing arts coordinator

Chris Blake
KSK Science Dept. Head – study hall supervisor

Kale Kaui
KSK Character Ed. Coordinator – study hall supervisor

Kealiʻi Akina
KSH Hawaiian History/Culture Teacher – social media coordinator

Kapalaiula De Silva
Cultural Specialist, Hoʻokahua – documentarian

Ekela Kaniaupio-Crozier
KSM Cultural Protocol Officer – kahuna pule

Snowbird Bento
Kumu ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi

Māhealani Chang
Kumu ‘Ōlelo Hawaiʻi

Naomi Helenihi-Aweau
5th grade teacher

Kristy Sharrer
5th grade teacher

Mara Bacon
5th grade teacher

Beth Ann Burgess
5th grade teacher

Chelsea Keehne
Curriculum Coordinator

Pono Brown
Polani Dutro

Lehua Hipolito
Lilia Lorenzo

China-Brooke Andrade
Nunu Fonoimoana-Lessary
Keahi Gabriel
Jordan Gouveia
Alika Kahala-Guevara
Kaehu Keawe
Candace Lacuesta
Aulani Latorre-Holt
Landon Luna
Kalena Mahiai
Jacob Panee
Kierra Sumida
Tavehi Tafiti
Alika Tolzmann

The KS Ngāti Ruawāhia delegation with ancestral kiʻi Māuipāmamao (Māui the demi-god trickster who touches the farthest extremities).

The 80-man Māori war canoe Ngātokimatawhaorua escorts Hōkūle‘a to shore.

Hōkūle‘a and Hikianalia crewmembers, along with the Ngāti Ruawāhia (Hawaiʻi) delegation enter Waitangi Marae.

Master navigator Hekenukumai Puhipi (Hector Busby), a renowned canoe builder and respected kaumātua (elder), watches as KS students perform during the pōwhiri (welcome ceremonies).

KS high school haumāna representing the three campuses perform in the welcome ceremony as proud members of Ngāti Ruawāhia, the 6th Tribe of Te Tai Tokerau.

KS haumāna help haul Ngātokimatawhaorua, the 130 ft. war canoe, into the bay at Waitangi.

malama honua voyage

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