East Hawaii News

Lectures to Feature Native Hawaiians at Sea

March 29, 2013, 1:21 PM HST
* Updated March 29, 1:22 PM
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Presentations scheduled next month for Hilo and Kona will focus on the activities of native Hawaiians at sea.

The presentations will be part of the Eia Hawai`i and Puana Ka `Ike lectures to be held from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 11, at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, Campus Center Room 301; and from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Friday, April 12, at the Keauhou Shopping Center, Suite 140, in the inner courtyard next to Bianelli’s.

Both are free to the public.

They will feature three Hawaiian men with extensive experience at sea, both commercially in the merchant marine industry and with modern-day voyaging canoes.

“Hawaiians have much experience with the open-ocean exchange of commodities,” a spokeswoman for the Kohala Center said in a statement issued today. “The seamen’s presentation focuses on the history and modern day stories of Hawaiians who were involved in the merchant seaman services, the dwindling population of Hawaiians in the industry, and how they are working to increase the numbers by recruiting new blood into open-ocean voyaging.”


The participants include Capt. “LJ” John Benson, a seaman since the age of 33 who now  captains large barges. Sailing since the age of 12, he received his captain’s license when he was 19 with only five years of sail time under his belt. Benson has assisted many escorts and sailing ventures with Kai Makana, Hokule‘a, canoe races, and Mokumanamana researches with the Edith Kanaka‘ole Foundation.


Leighton Tseu is a retired seaman and a retired regional senior port engineer for Matson with 40 years in the waterfront marine business. He has made short sails on Hōkūle‘a and helps to educate and motivate the Hawaiian community, especially the ʻopio (youth). He is a member of the Royal Order of Kamehameha I, Moku O Kona; the Papahanaumokuakea Culture Working Group; a participant in Papaku Makawalu; president of Kawehiokalani Inc.; and general manager of Keolaewa, LCC.

The third participant is Norman Piianaia, a retired seaman with over 40 years of experience. He has made short sails on Hokule‘a and is now involved with Na Kalai Waʻa and the voyaging canoe Makali‘i.

The lectures are sponsored by Keauhou-Kahalu‘u Education Group, Kamehameha Schools, The Kohala Center, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, Kipuka Native Hawaiian Student Center and the Keauhou Shopping Center.


For more information on this presentation, contact Joy Cunefare at (800) 842-4682, extension 25340, or e-mail [email protected] For lecture schedules visit http://kohalacenter.org/puanakaike/about.html. Webcasts of previous lectures are available at http://keauhouresort.com/learn-puanakaike.html.

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