Honoring the Spirit of the Waʻa and the ʻĀina
‘Imiloa’s Annual Wayfinding and Navigation Festival
For many, wayfinding is at the center of Hawaiian culture. The wayfinding spirit was definitely at the center of the 8th Annual ʻImiloa Wayfinding & Navigational Festival, hosted Saturday October 24 at the Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaiʻi.
Thanks to sponsorship by the Ama OluKai Foundation, the festival was free to the public. Ama OluKai, a non-profit created by OluKai last year, sponsored the event to help preserve and increase knowledge of Hawaiian Culture.
The ʻImiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaiʻi is located on the University of Hawaiʻi, Hilo Campus.
The festival began with a pule (prayer) where ʻImiloa staff welcomed a group of students and teachers in Hawaiian into the center. The group of students and teachers then answered in Hawaiian and entered the building with other members of the public.
This year’s theme was “He Waʻa He Moku, Honoring the spirit of the Waʻa and the ʻĀina”. The phrase “He Waʻa He Moku, He Moku He Waʻa” is a common saying among paddlers that they sing or speak when paddling. The phrase is modern translation from the foundational beliefs of Captain Clayton Bertlemann, a Hōkūleʻa crew member and community leader on the Big Island.
Several keynote presentations about preserving Hawaiian culture were followed by a surprise skype call from Chad Baybayan from the Hōkūleʻa . Currently the crew of the Hōkūleʻa are in South Africa waiting for a weather window to make the next part of their journey, a 260 mile run from Durban to east London.
The Center has a 3-D full dome planetarium which was used for an immersive presentation on how Polynesians and Hawaiʻians in waʻas (canoes) used the stars to originally settle in the Hawaiʻian Islands. Throughout the day there were also free presentations in the planetarium on “Unlocking the Stars to Tahiti,” “Legends of the Night Sky,” “Maunakea Between Earth and Sky,” and “Unlocking the Stars to Aotearoa.”
There were also several activity booths for the keiki (children) and keiki at heart, incorporating all the necessary skills to be a Waʻa crew member. The activities included things like packing gear, calibrating your body to become a measuring tool, knot tying, and naming the various parts of the waʻa in Hawaiian.
Participants that successfully completed all the activities won a prize and were entered to win a free pair of OluKai slippers. It was an incredibly moving day that brought many keystone members of the community together to share their knowledge and inspiration for the Waʻa and ʻĀina (land).