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Help us take Hawai`iloa Home to Alaska

Tax deductible

Rebuild the Canoe, Restore the Connection, Reshape the Future: Help us take Hawai`iloa to Alaska. 

Hawaiʻiloa is a traditional voyaging canoe composed of Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian natural resources and ancestral ingenuity was envisioned, designed, carved by hand and created into a “first of its kind”. Using traditional knowledge and tools alongside modern adaptations, Hawaiʻiloa came to symbolize the triumphant challenges of indigenous people around the Pacific region who have risen to restoring our culture, such as traditional waʻa (i.e., waʻa kaukahi, waʻa kaulua) while at the same time sharing our moʻolelo (story), revitalizing traditional skills (i.e., kalai waʻa) and strengthening our cultural resilience for future generations. E hoʻomau! Hawaiʻiloa has fallen into disrepair and is currently undergoing a major overhaul and restoration with its primary focus to return to Alaska, to reconnect with the Alaska Native people and the place from which the twin hulls of Hawaiʻiloa were hewn. The resource materials of indigenous woods, cordage and the craftsmen and women needed to restore Hawaiʻiloa have been scarce and costly, regrettably. postponing our trip in 2023.

The Dream of Hawaiʻiloa carries on
In 2023, it would be more than thirty years since the wooden double-hulled canoe "wa`a kaulua" was first launched. However, two years after that, in 1995, was the last time Hawaiʻiloa left Hawaiʻi on a voyage.  

A decade and a half after the monumental 1976 maiden voyage of Hokule`a to Tahiti, a new canoe was commissioned. This time, it would be built the traditional way: out of trees. After an unsuccessful quest to find native Hawaiian trees large enough for a voyaging canoe, kahuna kalai wa`a (master builder) Wright Elemakule Bowman, Jr., commonly known as "Wrighto" and his Friends (from where we get our name), took to carving two Sitka spruce logs gifted to us by the native peoples of Alaska. It took two years to build, followed by two years of crew training, repairs, and redesigns before Hawaiʻ‘iloa was seaworthy. In 1995, the canoe left Hawaiʻi for Tahiti, sailed back to Hawai’i, and then visited Washington, Canada, and Alaska. This was his first - and only - voyage.

Haliʻa Aloha o Alakeka: Cherished Memory of Alaska
Hawaiʻiloa would not exist without the Alaskan people, the Sea Alaska Corporation, the Tlingit, the Haida, and the Tsimshian. The first voyage to Alaska in 1995 was to thank these very people for their gift of the trees, and it inspired a cultural revitalization for a new generation there. 

That generation of indigenous Alaskan children has grown up and had children of their own. This new generation has heard of the canoe but never seen it in their home waters. It is time to return. It is time to take Hawai`iloa back home.

We couldn't have built this canoe without the gift of the Sitka spruce logs when we couldn't find koa trees large enough here in Hawaiʻi. The Friends of Hōkūleʻa and Hawaiʻiloa will honor these legendary contributors (Pinky Thompson, Thomas Kaulukukui, Sr., and Byron Mallot) by visiting as many Alaskan people as possible to say, “Mahalo mai kākou", Thank you from us all, for this gift. 

He Pilina Wehena ‘Ole: An Inseverable Relationship
Since the beginning, it's been our mission to care for, maintain, and build canoes by the cultural traditions of the Native Hawaiian people, and teach as many as possible to continue the legacy of the skilled canoe builder "kālai waʻ’a". This visit will restore the connection of our elders and teach the young, whoever wants to learn. 

The reason Hawaiʻ’iloa has not voyaged since 1995 has not been for lack of desire, but rather due to the immense challenge of restoring, rebuilding, and maintaining a seaworthy vessel built from natural, indigenous materials. We are a small, but dedicated crew, and could use all of your kōkua in keeping the dream alive. Much more work needs to be done to rebuild and repair entire parts of the canoe, as well as plan and fundraise for our upcoming voyage to reconnect with our Alaskan family, ’ohana.

The past several years caused a dark period for our waʻa kaulua and many of us in our own lives as well. We want to actively work towards a brighter tomorrow, by keeping alive the traditions of yesterday. Help us reshape the future into a positive vision for the next generation.

We, the Friends of Hokule`a and Hawai`iloa regret that the Alaska Trip in 2023 was postponed, but we haven't stopped working for we believe that Hawai`iloa should go home to Alaska. Thank you "Mahalo nui" in advance for your contribution.  Visit our website: or facebook page Friends of Hokule`a & Hawai`iloa.


Denise Kekuna
Ewa Beach, HI
Friends of Hokulea and Hawaiiloa Inc
Registered nonprofit
Donations are typically 100% tax deductible in the US.

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