Crew Profile: Neal Palafox

PVS Member Since

HOMETOWN: Kailua, Oahu
PRIMARY DUTY: Medical Officer
On February 21, 2017 I was invited to crew on the closing leg 31B of the Malama Honua Voyage – Tahiti home to Hawai’i. As a single stretch of open ocean, the voyage would likely take somewhere between 21 to 30 days. My primary kuleana would be as the wa’a medical officer.

It was an honor and humbling to be asked to sail on the homecoming leg. This opportunity would be unique and an adventure of a lifetime. Navigation and sailing are frequently used as metaphors to describe life’s journey and purpose. I would be part of a real time sea voyage on a traditional double hulled sailing canoe that utilized traditional Pacific navigational science.

My spiritual journey would be re-kindled and my daily work would be informed by the majestic and changing Pacific Ocean, by being immersed in the Micronesian- Tahitian – Hawaiian continuum, by managing the steering and sailing of the wa’a, and by being part of the crew and mission of the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

The voyage for me was and still is a time to experience, and feel the pulse of the ocean and Pacific People’s. Looking through the prism of an academic faculty physician at the John A. Burns School of Medicine and the UH Cancer Center, voyaging with the Malama Honua Voyage had everything to do with the people’s health.

Malama Honua articulated with health in domains that the health care institutions should better understand. The healing process of the wounds associated with modern societal movement and its associated structural violence begins with this understanding . On the voyage I was able to touch Earth’s changing environment. My senses were awakened to reaffirm how identity, culture, tradition , ancestry, physical activity, nutrition, policy, and globalization, all weigh on the health of the Pacific

My kuelana, is to teach and apply what I have learned, as I have been provided an important dialogue about health and health care.

* Neil is a Professor and Physician, John A. Burns School of Medicine and University of Hawaii Cancer Center

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