When the winds fill the sails…and the paddles touch the ocean…
The winds are filling the sails again for Na Pe`a, a traditional Hawaiian canoe sailing program for youth. Organized under the Nakoa Foundation and Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail, middle school students selected from Konawaena Middle School have begun their year of learning and exploration of the canoe culture. Multiple community partners have also stepped in to support this program.
The first introduction of the Na Pe`a program occurred in 2012 during the opening ceremonies of Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park’s Children’s Cultural Festival. Four students on two small canoes accompanied kupuna (elders) on the mother canoe, Kinikini, to the shores at Aiopio fishtrap and presented a chant and hookupu. The festival, geared towards teaching fourth graders about Hawaiian culture in the setting of the National Historical Park and Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail, provided a perfect opportunity for Na Pe`a to inspire these younger students of Hawaii Island schools to find a greater ocean connection beyond the sands of the beach they stood on.
This year’s Na Pe`a participants hope to be involved with the 2013 Cultural Festival coming up on November 21 & 22. They fashioned and added unique designs to paddles that they made as part of the program’s curriculum. Each paddle has a name and a story and each student will use this tool to learn everything that a canoe brings to one’s life. Eventually, Na Pe`a will be spread to other communities so the skills and experiences of this traditional Hawaiian fishing canoe youth program can enhance ongoing sustainable stewardship of Hawaii.
Keep a watch for more details and updates about Na Pe`a program on Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail website, facebook and Pacific Island National Parks blog. CLICK HERE to connect.