Crew Blog | Kawika Crivello: Hōkūleʻa and the Noio

Kawika CrivelloWritten by Kawika Crivello

The relationship between our voyaging canoes and birds is well-documented, although sometimes the occurrences seem more magical and story-like than realistic.  But isnʻt that the beauty of our moʻolelo, of our living stories?  That our every day lives, experienced from the deck of our wahi pana or sacred spaces like our beloved Hōkūleʻa, are indeed magical, as well as real?  I want to share with you today some of the stories I have heard and I have lived about the beauty and magic of the Noio bird, from the voyagers of Hōkūleʻa.


When a Noio is seen by our Navigators and crew during a deep sea voyage, we know that there is land ahead, which lifts everyone’s spirits.  But the Noio is not just a guider of voyagers to land; the Noio is also a guider of voyagers to kupuna, to ancestry. We are approximately halfway in our journey on this leg of the Worldwide Voyage from Natal, Brazil to St. John, US Virgin Islands.  So far, we have been visited by a noio bird on three different occasions.  On each of those three occasions, even in storm-like conditions, like clock-work a noio would fly around Hōkūleʻa in the wee hours of the morning, land on the starboard side of the canoe, and rest there until sunrise. The somewhat surprising note is that the only times we’ve landed fish so far are on those occasions the Noio visited us and landed on our waʻa.  We caught two ono on the first day, then 1 mahimahi, then another mahimahi on the third visit.  Others may say that is a coincidence, but we know that the Noio signify our kupuna (elders) are watching over us.  


Our latest visit by the noio, just last night, included two of them that stayed with us until morning.  We acknowledge them by name – Uncle Mel Paoa and Uncle Wally Froseith.  During the last leg from Cape Town to Brazil, first-time voyager Lohiao Paoa, son of late long-time voyager Uncle Mel, was visited by a noio hundreds of miles out at sea in the Atlantic.  Lohiau made eye contact with the bird, lifted his hand to the noio, and connected by spirit as the noio landed on his finger.  This very magical and very real moment took place on Uncle Mel’s birthday. Uncle Wally – legendary big-wave surfer, master canoe builder, and steward of Hōkūleʻa – sails with us still, his spirit strengthened on board this leg by his moʻopuna, Ben Dumaran. We know they are both here with us, as well as countless other great voyagers and kupuna.  How honored we are by their protective presence.  We keep our headings toward Noio Hoʻolua, living the story of Hōkūleʻa and her Noio birds, sailing our beloved canoe around the world to share the story of our people, celebrate our past, and set our sights on a pono future for our precious honua.  

Eō Hōkūleʻa! 

na Kawika

Crossing North

After a 20-month sojourn in oceans south of the equator, Hōkūleʻa has returned to the northern hemisphere in the blue waters of the Atlantic. Please, help celebrate our crew by supporting their journey.

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