October is Wayfinding Month: Celebration of an Ancient Art
Mayor Billy Kenoi has officially proclaimed October as Wayfinding Month.
As a way to celebrate centuries of non-instrument navigation, the month of October will be dedicated to community activities centered around the theme of the wa‘a (canoe).
For generations, the starry heavens guided deep-sea voyagers from island to island across Oceania, pointing to the direction of new landfalls and marking the path to lead them home.
Early voyagers constructed sophisticated seagoing canoes from available natural resources, then sailed across the open ocean using the light of the stars and cues from nature as their guides.
Preparation for the festivities began in mid-September with the cutting of an albizia tree which was transferred to the shores of Hilo’s Bayfront.
From Tuesday through Thursday, Oct. 4 through 6, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. the public is invited to watch the initial construction and transformation of the tree from a log to a canoe hull at Hilo Bayfront.
There, nā kālai wa‘a (canoe carvers) will begin the carving and creation of a wa‘a kaukahi (single-hulled canoe).
The community can continue to watch the construction of the wa‘a during ‘Wa‘a Wednesdays’ which will take place Oct. 12, 19 and 26 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with an opportunity to talk story with some of the men and women who have been involved in the modern Hawaiian movement to perpetuate canoe carving.
Following its completion and a community blessing, the wa‘a will launch into Hilo Bay waters on Friday, Oct. 28 at 10 a.m.
Schools are urged to sign up their classes for field trip excursions to Hilo’s Bayfront throughout the month of October to observe the canoe building in action and learn about the art of wayfinding and canoe carving.
The peak of Wayfinding Month will be at the 9th Annual ‘Imiloa Wayfinding Festival at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center on Saturday, Oct. 29, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The free community event will feature Hilo’s newest canoe built during Wayfinding Month, special planetarium programming and canoe activities for the entire ‘ohana.
Other Wayfinding activities throughout the month of October include Wa‘a Talks with members of ‘Ohana Wa‘a at Richardson’s Ocean Center on Oct. 13 at 4 p.m. and a Wayfinding Talk at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center on Oct. 14 at 7 p.m.
A Temple of Children Mele Mural activity will take place on Oct. 22 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Palekai, Radio Bay.
For full event details, click here.
To take advantage of the Hilo Bay educational opportunity, schedule a field trip by calling Kalani Kahalioumi at the County of Hawai‘i Offices at (808) 961-8688.