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H?k?le‘a: An Icon of Hawaiian Culture and Health

Double-hulled voyaging canoes like the H?k?le‘a were used for millennia by Polynesians for long-distance travel between widely scattered island chains across the vast Pacific Ocean. H?k?le‘a was built according to the best understanding of traditional designs and completed its first major voyage, a 5,000-mile round trip between Hawai‘i and Tahiti, in 1976. Since then, H?k?le‘a has made voyages throughout the Pacific, including trips to Japan, Alaska, and the U.S. West Coast. The H?k?le‘a’s next challenge is a planned worldwide voyage in 2012. The goal is to carry on the growing Hawaiian cultural and health revival spurred by the H?k?le‘a, and to continue to inspire new generations of Native Hawaiian youth to respect their traditions.

Whether people want to recognize it or not, we are connected to our natural environment….When a child loses the capacity to understand or care about place, a disconnect occurs…We must help students reconnect by giving opportunities that reawaken their observational skills and help them understand the value of nurturing their own spirituality and physical well-being through taking care of their place.

Nainoa Thompson, 2007