Guest Blog | Chris Huerbsch: A Speech for Hōkūleʻa

Chris Huerbsch, president of the paddle club, CREBA, was one of Hōkūleʻa’s generous hosts in Panamá. He delivered this moving speech to Hōkūleʻa crew and others on January 15, 2017.

We live in a world where we have been systemized…most of us are in the “rat race” just struggling to maintain our current level of comfort.  We work jobs that demand more hours of our attention then our natural capacity to give attention.  We are surrounded by a plethora of superficial, mindless entertainment that struggles to dumb us down at the deepest level of our psyche. If we begin to pay attention to the geo-politics of the world, it’s hard to not become anxious about our future. Where do we find peace in such a world?

I came across an image of Eddie’s plaque that Hōkūleʻa bares that has an inscription of a bible verse from the book of John. It says, “No greater love has a man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” It must be pretty amazing to have known the legend Eddie Aikau. It must be even more amazing to know that he is in communion with his creator as he not only passed into the next life in an attempt to save the lives of his crew-mates, but had saved countless lives beforehand on the shores of Oʻahu.  Not many people have shown this expression of the greatest love mentioned by Jesus in the book of John as the way Eddie did.

Eddie comes with us through the Canal.

Eddie comes through the Canal.

I mention this because I believe peace ultimately comes from God.  Others might want to blame the creator for man’s failures, but the truth is we have been given the greatest gift, the gift of free will.  Many of us squander this gift.  In my faith practice we are called to be good stewards of the earth. We are taught that the earth ultimately belongs to God, and because God is just, our treatment of the earth will weigh in the balance on judgement day.  The unfortunate reality is that there are so few people who could say they are ready to lay down their lives for others or can live up to saying they are good stewards of the earth.

Now I would like to take this moment to recognize Nainoa Thompson, the crew members of Hōkūleʻa and the Polynesian Voyaging Society for all the Mālama Honua that they have spread around the globe these past 40 years, since their initial voyage. Not only have they put themselves in situations where they are potentially risking their lives, but I can only imagine the personal sacrifices each one has made along the way. Sacrifices to escape a system that teaches us to focus on ourselves and to gather up material things, but instead they have focused on creating a system to serve others. They have dedicated a part of their lives to empowering the first people of the different nations they visit.  These same people are the ones that are usually sidelined and marginalized by the colonized “civilizations” that developed around them. Life has shown me that a little encouragement is enough to save a life.  I believe individually and as an organization you have had a greater impact on the different groups you have visited then you might realize, potentially laying down your lives to get there.  As Nainoa mentioned in his biography, “”After Eddie’s death, we could have quit. But then Eddie wouldn’t have had his dream fulfilled. He was my spirit. He was saying to me, ‘Raise those islands.’ His tragedy also made us aware of how dangerous our adventure was, how unprepared we were in body and in spirit.”

Christopher Huerbsch​, January 15, 2017


Club de Remos de Balboa


11145011_10106168927466753_9099598001197470653_oChris Huerbsch is a native “zonian” that was born and raised in Panama.  He has been an avid paddler since he started competing in the local cayuco races at the age of 16.

Chris has completed 15 race seasons of which his team has won first place 6 times and second place 5 times.  Now he dedicates his time to serving the local paddling community as one of their race organizers and president of the local paddle club, CREBA.  

When not org

anizing races, building paddles or cayucos, he can most likely be found in the water; paddling or surfing.


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