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Voyaging Veterans to Speak on Canoe Construction

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Five veteran crew members of the voyaging canoe Hokule`a – including two captains – will speak next week on the subject of traditional construction of canoes, also known as wa`a.

“A Mau Loa – The Continued Legacy of the Wa`a” will be presented from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 24, at Wentworth 1 at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, and from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 25, in the Keauhou Ballroom III at the Sheraton Keauhou Resort and Spa at Keauhou Bay.

Aunt Deedee Bertelmann. Courtesy The Kohala Center.

Aunt Deedee Bertelmann. Courtesy The Kohala Center.

The presentations are the latest lectures in the Eia Hawai`i and Puana Ka `Ike series held in Hilo and Kona. Both are free and open to the public.

Following the launch of Hokule`a, crew members looking to investigate traditional construction of Hawaiian canoes formed Na Kalai Wa`a, an organization focused on creating single-hulled canoes out of native resources.

With the assistance of kupuna, or elders, from the state Department of Education’s kupuna program, Na Kalai Wa`a developed the first voyaging and wa`a program curricula using traditional methods, tools, customs and rituals.

Shorty Bertelmann. Courtesy The Kohala Center.

Shorty Bertelmann. Courtesy The Kohala Center.

The result was the building of the traditional coastal sailing canoe Mauloa and voyaging canoe Makali`i.

For many years, the Bertelmann family home in Waimea was the main hub for Na Kalai Wa`a.

Aunty Deedee Bertelman, a former crew member of both the Hokule`a and Makali`i, has had numerous prominent roles in the group’s operations. She is currently a kumu (teacher) at Kanu o ka `Aina where she teaches about the foundations of Hawai`I and shares her voyaging and wa`a curricula.

She and Shorty Bertelmann will be among those participating in the lectures.

Shorty Bertelmann, a captain for the Hokule`a and navigator for Makali`i, is vice president of Na Kalaai Wa`a and a mentor for Kuikawa`a, the organization’s apprenticeship program.

Others taking part in the lectures include:

  • Tava Taupu, a master carver of ki`i or wooden images, who has been a crew member for many Hokule`a voyages. Taupu, a native of the Marquesas Islands who came to Hawaii via Tahiti, has carved ki`i on Oahu and at Pu`uhonua o Honaunau National Historic Park in Kona, where he has also maintained the park’s canoes.
  • Maulili Dickson, a member of the crew for the maiden voyages of both the Hokule`a and Makali`i. Dickson, who was born on Oahu and lived in Waimea for 30 years, is a founding member of Na Kalai Wa`a and serves as a captain for its vessels and programs.
  • Chadd Paishon, a master navigator who has captained both the Hokule`a and Makali`i. Originally from Oahu, Paishon serves as a senior captain for Na Kalai Wa`a.

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

For more information on this presentation, contact Joy Cunefare at (808) 322-5340 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.

Those taking part in the lectures include, from left, Tava Taupu, Maulili Dickson and Chadd Paison. Courtesy The Kohala Center.

Those also taking part in the lectures include, from left, Tava Taupu, Maulili Dickson and Chadd Paishon. Photos courtesy The Kohala Center.


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