Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sacred Historical Sites #2-Wayfinders of Old Hawai'i

Debate over whether or not early Polynesian voyagers were able to navigate their double hulled canoes back to homelands to gather supplies and recruits to colonize the Islands raged for years. The canoes paddled by the ancients were dug out from tree trunks and made from planks sewn together with cordage of coconut fiber twisted into strands and braided for strength. Cracks and seams were sealed with coconut fibers and sap from breadfruit or other trees. An outrigger was attached to a single hull for greater stability on the ocean; two hulls were lashed together with crossbeams and a deck added between the hulls to create double canoes capable of voyaging long distances. Scholars could not believe that these canoes navigated without instruments by seafarers who depended on their observations of the ocean currents, scent on the winds, clouds in the sky and messages from birds could follow these clues to an intentional landfall. Legend has it that a migrating whale led early voyagers to the Hawaiian Islands.

In the 1970’s these doubts where overturned when the Hokule’a, named after the “Bright Star of Happiness” that rests over Hawaii, a reconstruction of an ancient voyaging canoe made the return voyage to Tahiti. This remarkable re-enactment, chronicled in An Ocean in Mind by Will Kyselka, put to rest any disbelief about the abilities of ancient Wayfinders. The Hokule’a and her crew continue to make voyages. You can learn more about them and follow the triumphant Hokule’a on the Polynesian Voyaging Society site.

Ko’a holo moana, is an ancient voyaging heiau – sometimes called the Stonehenge of the Islands. The existence of this little known site is more proof that the “people of old” knew a great deal more about navigation than once believed. The heiau that consists of a set of standing stones that led the way for ancient Polynesian sea voyagers. It is the only heiau of its kind in the Islands. It is located at Mahukona Point near mile marker 15 on the Akoni Highway on the Kohala Coast.
Get past the incongruous bagpipe opening of this informative video by Donnie MacGowen and witness this little known voyaging heiau.

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