Story by PO1 Jeffrey Troutman on 02/10/2018The traditional Polynesian double-hulled voyaging canoe, Hklea, sailed into the waters of Pearl Harbor and visited the Puuloa region for the first time in the canoe's 42-year history, Feb. 10.
The Hklea crew was welcomed at Rainbow Bay Marina by the Puuloa community and US Navy who will host the canoe during a week-long visit to the region.
Rear Adm. Brian Fort, commander, Navy Region Hawaii and commander, Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, spoke at the welcoming ceremony of the Hklea' crew's values, and how they reflect those of the U.S. Navy and the Hawaiian community at Pearl Harbor.
"Today is truly a historic day here at Pu'uloa," said Fort. "I am a firm believer that the values that unite us are much greater than the distractions that divide us, and here today, we are truly inspired by the brave and humble navigators and voyagers of Hklea, and by the values they cherish and represent."
The Hklea crew's week-long engagement with the local community will include school visits, public dockside tours and a crew speaking event. As part of the Mahalo, Hawaii Sail, the purpose of Hklea's visit is to bring the canoe to more of Hawaii's children, honor Pearl Harbor's ancient culture and history, and to learn about the efforts to restore the area's cultural sites, including the nearby Loko Paaiau Fishpond.
"This is an emotional day for me, because this is the very first time this historic vessel has ever sailed upon the waters of Pearl Harbor," said Nainoa Thompson, president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and Master Navigator of Hklea. "To feel this sense of community and to know that the efforts of this crew are being celebrated in this moment, it is my hope that today is a chance for us to all take one more step towards coming together as one."
Upon entering the waters of Pearl Harbor, the Hklea crew paid their respect as the vessel sailed past significant cultural and historical sites including Halealoha Halemau (Fort Kamehameha Reburial Platform), USS Nevada, Arizona Memorial, Battleship Missouri, Ford Island, USS Utah, and Loko Paaiau Fishpond, before piering at Rainbow Bay Marina. The crew will conclude their week-long visit by working with the restoration team at Loko Paaiau Fishpond on February 17.
The Loko Paaiau fishpond is located at McGrew Point Navy housing and is one of only three fishponds out of an original 22 in the Pu'uloa area which are still relatively intact. In September 2014, the Navy invited members of the local Hawaiian civic clubs and Aiea community members to begin work on restoring the historic fishpond.
"We want to celebrate this place and the movement taking place by the Puuloa community and the Navy to restore the Native Hawaiian history, sites and cultural identity of Pearl Harbor," said Nainoa Thompson, president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society. "We hope Hklea's visit will open the doors for our young people to learn about the extraordinary history and culture of this very special, sacred place."
More than 1,000 school children are scheduled to visit Hklea and participate in educational activities during her stop at Puuloa.
For more information about the Hklea and her crew, please visit: http://www.hokulea.com/.