Birth of a Canoe


Story by Lehia Apana | Photography by Sue Hudelson

Mookiha Canoe

After nearly two decades in dry dock, Maui’s first oceangoing traditional voyaging canoe has set sail. On July 11, Mo‘okiha o Pi‘ilani embarked on its maiden voyage from Mala Wharf in Lahaina.

A crowd gathered to witness its historic launch and birth into the ocean. During a piko ceremony, attendees joined hands to form a circle around the canoe and a sacred, symbolic piko (umbilical cord): a 100-foot ti leaf connecting the canoe to the ‘aina (land). Mo‘okiha captain and canoe builder Timi Gilliom severed the cord, signifying that the boat was ready to leave the land and become one with the sea.

Canoes from Maui paddling clubs escorted the double-hulled canoe into the ‘Au‘au Channel. This sixty-three-foot-long, eleven-ton living classroom will visit ports of call throughout Hawai‘i to promote voyaging arts and education.

Maui No Ka ‘Oi Magazine has been following the progress of Mo‘okiha o Pi‘ilani for several years. To learn more, visit our online archives — “Raising Mo‘okiha” (July –  August 2010) andNow, Voyager” (November – December 2013).


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