Maui News

PHOTOS: Moʻokiha Completes Midnight Move to Māla

July 9, 2014, 12:14 PM HST
* Updated July 11, 8:40 AM
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Photo courtesy Hui o Waʻa Kaulua/ Charlie Osborn.

Photo courtesy Hui o Waʻa Kaulua/Charlie Osborn.

By Maui Now Staff

Maui’s own voyaging canoe, the Moʻokiha o Piʻilani, is scheduled to launch on Friday, July 11, from Māla Wharf in Lahaina.

The 63-foot, 11-ton, double-hulled traditional sailing canoe has been under construction for the last 17 years at Kamehameha Iki Park in West Maui, but work to build the vessel actually began in the mid 1990s.

In preparation for the launch, crews conducted canoe protocol on Sunday night, and slowly rolled the vessel 1.4 miles up Front Street on the morning of Monday, July 7.

Organizers say an estimated 400 people participated in the procession from 525 Front Street to Māla Wharf.

Photo courtesy Hui o Waʻa Kaulua/Charlie Osborn.

Photo courtesy Hui o Waʻa Kaulua/Charlie Osborn.


“Our thoughts and actions were focused two things: the historic importance of this moment for Maui and safety,” said Maui’s Voyaging Society, Hui o Waʻa Kaulua president, Kimokeo Kapahulehua in an organization press release. “I was thinking of  our ancestors who did this 600 years ago and how a whole village — a whole island came together to build and launch the waʻa kaulua,” he said.


The canoe launch this Friday is scheduled in conjunction with the Akua Moon and the 3:53 p.m. highest tide of the month, according to Hui o Waʻa Kaulua.

Launch Day festivities begin at noon on Friday, July 11 and include commemorative addresses by kūpuna, as well as dignitaries Governor Neil Abercrombie, Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa and West Maui state and county officials.

From 2:30 to 3:30, Hawaiian practitioners from all parts of Maui, Moʻokiha o Piʻilani crew, and nearly 40 Maui canoe and paddling clubs will participate in a traditional Hawaiian canoe launching ceremony to release the “living canoe” into the ocean.

Photo courtesy Hui o Waʻa Kaulua/Charlie Osborn.

Photo courtesy Hui o Waʻa Kaulua/Charlie Osborn.


Organizers say the canoe will float on the rising tide between 3:30 and 3:50 p.m.

Captain Timi Gilliom said he plans to take the vessel north and circle around in front of Canoe Beach before heading south back to the vessel’s mooring off of Pākalā Beach fronting Kamehameha Iki Park in Lahaina.

“If there is wind, we’ll sail — if not, an escort boat will tow us,” said Gilliom in the announcement.

After the launch, the Maui community is invited to join Hui o Waʻa Kaulua at their offices for a hoʻolauleʻa celebration that will include food and music beginning at 5 p.m. and continuing until 9 p.m. Entertainment includes performers from the Old Lahaina Lūʻau, ʻAinoa, Marty Dread, the cast of ʻUlalena, Amy Hanaialiʻi, Eric Gilliom, and Da ʻUkulele Boys.

As part of the historic event, advisory updates on the launch and events leading up to the occasion will be broadcast on KPOA 93.5 FM.

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