Hawaiian Canoe Blessing

Kimokeo Kapahulehua

The group that I paddle with out of the Kalepolepo Fishpond in Kihei recently added a new wa’a (Hawaiian outrigger canoe) to our fleet and a traditional Hawaiian blessing ceremony took place before her maiden voyage.   The crew, friends and visitors were all invited to participate in the ceremony presided by Kimokeo Kapahulehua (aka Uncle Kimokeo).  Kimokeo is passionate about teaching and preserving native Hawaiian culture. Check out his foundation here http://kimokeo.org/

On February 25th of 2017, Kimokeo lead some 45+ people in the ceremony which included, chanting, clapping, an ‘awa ceremony (‘awa or kava is a bitter root drink which is often seen in ceremonial protocol throughout the Pacific).   We all wore lei made of ti leaves and dressed in traditional kiheis (think a short toga). 6 people were chosen to take the wa’a out on her first trip to sea as a part of the blessing.

The new wa’a (prounounced vah-ah) received the name:

Na Kapuna ka Ono Ulu O ke Kai

I’ll break it down phonetically for my fellow Hawaiian language newbies:

Nah /  Kah poo na   /  kah   /  Oh-no  /  oo-loo  /  Oh /   kay   /   Kai  (like sky)

The word for word translation is:

Na Kapuna = The Ancient Ones (Ancestors)

Ono Ulu = Delicious Breadfruit

O ke Kai = Over All the Seawater

Since Hawaiian is a very contextual language, here’s my rough translation: The Ancestors of great abundance over all the ocean water.  (Moana is Ocean, Kai is the sea or ocean water specifically).

Now to the good stuff!  Photos and Video

Wa’a Blessing Part 1 – Opening Ceremony

Wa’a Blessing Part 2 – ‘Awa ceremony

Wa’a Blessing Part 3 – Crew receive their lei

Wa’a Blessing Part 4 – Blessing the Wa’a

After the blessing, the Na Kapuna (for short) was carried on our shoulders into the water. (Dat buggah is about 500 lbs!).


Double hull canoes launched ahead of the Na Kapuna.  Mahalo to our friends at Kihei Canoe club for lending us their double hulls!

The Na Kapuna and her crew leave the fishpond for the open sea.  The double hull canoes circle around the Na Kapuna.

Mahalo nui loa to Uncle Kimokeo, Auntie Ryn and everyone who made this a beautiful ceremony.  I was honored to be a part of it!

Big Photo Gallery

PS:  I was so very happy and honored to be chosen for the Na Kapuna’s first crew!  I know my face doesn’t show it much in the videos and photos, but I was thrilled to be a part of such a meaningful and auspicious occasion.  And with so many wonderful people! Alas, I think I suffer from RBF (google it ;).