Samoa farewells the Hawaiian voyaging canoes “Hokulea” and “Hikianalia”

The Hawaiian voyaging canoes “Hokulea” and “Hikianalia” as they set sail from Apia

APIA: WEDENESDAY 10 SEPTEMBER 2014: The two traditional Hawaiian voyaging canoes, or va’atele, “Hokulea” and “Hikianalia” safely departed Samoa around 1.30pm, Monday September 8, after a small farewell ceremony on the Apia waterfront. The event was attended by His Highness the Head of State of Samoa, Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi and Her Highness Masiofo Filifilia Tamasese. The Kings Gospel Singers of the Pacific from Australia sang inspirational songs as the crew departed .

The visit of the two va’atele to Samoa is part of a 4 year “Malama Honua” worldwide voyage to spread the message of “malama”, or caring for island earth, our natural environment, children and all mankind.

The two canoes are now currently sailing north towards Tokelau at around 5 knots and at this speed they should reach Fakaofo in the next 2 days. From Tokelau the va’atele return to American Samoa before proceeding to Tonga and New Zealand.  To track the movements of the canoes please see http://www.hokulea.com/

The departure of the va’atele yesterday capped an action packed and exciting week for the Hawaiians in Samoa. On Monday Sept 1 the Hokulea hosted the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon who passed on a written message in a bottle which said  “I am honored to be part of Hokulea’s Worldwide Voyage. I am inspired by its global mission. As you tour the globe, I will work and rally more leaders to our common cause of ushering in a more sustainable future, and a life of dignity for all”.  The message will be taken by Hokulea to 26 nations around the world and will be returned to the UN Secretary General in New York in 2016.

While in Samoa, Nainoa Thompson, the President of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and captain of Hokulea, had many speaking engagements at SIDS conference events where he promoted the message of “Malama Honua”.

The crew were also very busy spreading this message at a number of public events, including an exhibition and workshop at the Museum of Samoa through a partnership with the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture. The crew were hosted by Matautu village at an ava ceremony and fa’aafe (refreshments) on Monday Sept 1. His Highness the Head of State, and Her Highness Masiofo, hosted the crew twice, firstly on Wednesday Sept 3 at an evening reception at Vailele and again on Friday Sept 5 at an official farewell ava ceremony at Tuaefu.  Siva Afi hosted the crew to their Siva Afi dinner and show on Thursday Sept 4. The EFKS Apia church hosted the crew to a special church service on Sunday Sept 7 which was followed by a Samoan to’onai on the beach at the Sinalei Reef Resort and Spa.

As the local hosts for the Hawaiians, the Aiga Folau o Samoa (Samoa Voyaging Society) would like to show our sincere appreciation to all the many people and organisations that made the visit of our Hawaiian aiga folau such a huge success. We thank the dedicated and professional efforts of the Samoa Ports Authority, the Samoa Police, the Fire and Emergency Services Authority, the Tokelau Apia Liaison Office and the officials from the Ministries of Customs, Immigration, Health and Agriculture for their hard work to ensure the timely and safe passage and clearance of Hokulea and Hikianalia  into and out of Apia harbour.

We would also like to thank the chiefs, orators and youth groups of Apia, Magiagi and Matautu villages for their incredible hospitality and for their amazing performances on the day of the arrival of the va’atele on Monday September 1. We thank Reverend Utufua Naseri of Apia EFKS for blessing the crews at the arrival and the Kings Gospel Choir for their singing at the farewell. We appreciate the oratory of Manu Asafo who acted as an MC at a number of the official events.  We are grateful to Siva Afi for hosting the crew at their fire dance show and for providing us a banner.

We thank Sinalei Resort and Spa for the wonderful function hosted on Sunday.  We  thank the Samoa Tourism Authority for never losing patience with us despite the constant changes in the arrival plans. We also thank the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA), the Conservation International Pacific Islands Program, SPREP, IUCN and the Governments of China and Japan for helping us to host the Hawaiians and to prepare “Gaualofa” to sail again in the near future.

We save our greatest appreciation for our Patron, His Highness the Head of State of Samoa, Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi for so graciously hosting the Hokulea crew at both his official  residence and his private home last week, and for his leadership and inspirational words to promote the revival of the traditional values of respect for self, for others and for our environment.

“Faafetai, Faafetai tele lava mo le tou agaalofa,”says the Aiga Folau o Samoa.

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