Learning Journey: ʻImiloa Astronomy Center & Hawai‘i Community College, June 11

Hilo, Hawai‘i —

Crew visits ʻImiloa Planetarium with Kaimana of Hōkūalakaʻi and the ʻŌpio of Kūlia I Ka Pono.

The young crew of Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia visited the ʻImiloa Astronomy Center Planetarium to explore the night sky under cover. We listened to Kaimana explain to his opio about the star compass, star lines and a few constellations that the wayfinders used in the voyages of the past. Taking a few of Kumu Kaʻiulani Murphy’s class gave me prior knowledge of the star compass and most stars and constellations, but I am always open to learning more from other peoples perspective which allows me to have many different ways of seeing things. Sitting in the back row of chairs behind all the opio listening to the chants that help them remember the four different star lines made me realize that there is never an end in learning no matter what you know or knew there is tons of manaʻo (knowledge) lingering in the air but it depends if you want to grasp it or let it go.

Crew and Kulia I Ka Pono Group photo

Photo by: Jenna Ishii

Crew Visits Kumu Hula Pele Kaio at Hawaiʻi Community College

Visiting the Hawaiʻi Lifestyles program at Hawaiʻi Community College was an awesome experience for me and the rest of the crew learning how to do a type of chant with string called hei that awakens the night and creates the universe which is important to the Hawaiians which strongly believe in the natural creations of our archipelago. Learning about how the land was first founded by our kupuna before us. They believed Big Island was first created because of the way the ancient Polynesians found the islands being born from the horizon as they sailed their way up the Hawaiian Island chain. Though geologically Hawai‘i Island was the last Island to be created by the underwater volcanoes, ancient Hawaiians believed differently. The relation between the chants we learned and the voyaging we do is that we always started with Big Island and sailed down wind through the Hawaiian chain so that is the reason why Hawai‘i Island is mentioned first in the chant and Ni‘ihau is one of the last.

Caption: Learning Hei at Hawaiʻi Community College

Photo: Jenna Ishii

Kumu Pele shared his thoughts on teaching our crew members today:

We would like to contribute the hei (ritual string figures) to the Learning Journey. String figures were made popular as a child's game but this learning journey looks at addressing the ritual of the string. Two hei will be taught that look at calling the night and recreating the universe. The first hei will be paired with the traditional chant Mele a Pakuʻi. This looks at recreating the universe and the pairing of Wākea and Papahānaumoku and Wākea and Hoʻohōkūkalani. This chant tells us that we are direct descendants of the land, the sky and the stars. So, no matter where the waʻa is they are always surrounded and guided by kūpuna. The second hei will be paired with the chant A Pō E, this hei is used to call upon the night so the hei may capture the stars. Through these hei we will address the journeying of the self; the spirit.

Learning this chant and the dance with the hei used a lot of hand eye coordination – something some of us don’t have after lashing and tightening shrouds which makes our hands all sore and tense.

Mahalo nui to Kumu Pele, Allie Atkins and the kumu at Hawaiʻi Community College for allowing us to spend the morning with you and for sharing your manaʻo with our crew members. 

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