Hōkūleʻa – Moananuiākea Voyage: Celebrating Culture and Education

The iconic Hokule’a arrived at Ventura Harbor.

by Janie Tran

With support from the Ventura Yacht Club and Ventura Port District, on the foggy afternoon of October 18, the iconic Hokule’a arrived at Ventura Harbor, welcomed by a diverse and enthusiastic crowd. The indigenous community, local Hālau, and the general public gathered to greet the voyaging canoe as it gracefully docked at the Ventura Yacht Club, its home for the next six days.

At the dockside, a heartwarming assembly of individuals from various backgrounds stood ready to embrace Hōkūleʻa. Tomol paddler Alan Salazer from the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians exuded the spirit of indigenous cultures. Chairman Matthew Vestuto and the Barbareño/Ventureño Band of Mission Indians (Chumash) Tribal Council shared their rich heritage. Two local Hālau groups, Ka Hale Hula ʻO Pilialohaokalani O Hilo and Hālau Hula O Pualanina`auali`ioha, shared traditional Hawaiian culture at the gathering.

With a sense of unity, the Barbareño/Ventureño Band of Mission Indians granted permission for Hōkūleʻa to dock, marked by a beautiful welcome song. Captain Mark Ellis requested to visit the ancestral home of the Barbareño/Ventureño Chumash, honoring the land’s heritage. The crew disembarked and exchanged gifts with the Tribal Chairman and Council. Lei were presented to the captain, placed on the canoe’s front manu, followed by the crew’s chant, “la Wa’a Nui.”

Together, they proceeded to a sacred ceremony at Ventura Harbor Cove beach, led by Chairman Matthew Vestuto and Captain Mark Ellis, and traditional dances from the two Hālau groups filled the air with cultural significance.

The Hōkūleʻa’s visit to Ventura is part of the Moananuiākea voyage, the purpose of which is to ignite a movement of 10 million “planetary navigators” who will pursue critical and inspiring “voyages” to ensure a better future for the earth. The Hōkūleʻa crew furthered this mission by educating the many visitors to the canoe. During public tours, the community learned about Hōkūleʻa’s history, navigation, and the crew’s responsibilities. Over 70 students from Oxnard elementary schools and had the privilege of embarking on Hōkūleʻa, where they learned about its voyage, history, rope tying, and traditional wayfinding using celestial bodies.

On October 24, Hōkūleʻa set sail for Marina Del Rey. The voyage will then continue to Newport, Dana Point, and San Diego. In light of the devastating fires on Maui, the Hōkūleʻa will return home from San Diego in December before continuing her circumnavigation of the Pacific. She carries with her the stories of communities coming together, transcending boundaries, and celebrating the rich mosaic of cultures that make the Pacific region so extraordinary. Hōkūleʻa’s Moananuiākea circumnavigation of the Pacific is not merely a voyage; it is an inspirational testament to the enduring spirit of humanity.

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