Future Search The Method

Printer FriendlySpeaking with the Ancients

Ko'olau Loa District, Oahu, Hawaii, 1996: The conches sound and more than 1,700 faces turn seaward. It's an exceptionally large turnout for this rural district on Hawaii's island of Oahu. They have gathered here at Kahana Bay this February morning of 1997 to welcome the arrival of two voyaging canoes: the Hokule'a and E'ala. The Hokule'a, built 22 years ago to test the hypothesis that Hawaiians had sailed to these islands without navigational instruments, proved the theory correct in 1976 when it sailed to Tahiti and back. More than that, it inspired many Hawaiians to turn toward their cultural roots and take pride in their past.

Now the Hokule'a is on the second leg of a statewide voyage to demonstrate Hawaiian navigation and to serve as a focal point for community activism. Along with their skilled crews, both canoes sail with community representatives and local high school students aboard. And during the visit, the public is invited to learn about voyaging education at the beach, take canoe tours, or stargaze with the Polynesian Voyaging Society staff.

Students from area schools visit the canoes to learn about sailing and navigation, and about the ancient values that anteceded those skills - values like 'ohana (extended family), malama (caring) lokahi (harmony, unity), and laulima (many hands working together to accomplish a common goal).

For several months preceding the visit, the community of Ko'olau Loa on Oahu's north shore, which helped sponsor the event, worked together in a massive effort to make the celebration a success. Up and down the coast, hundreds of volunteers prepared the welcome of the Hokule'a with traditional Hawaiian protocol that included chanters, dancers, musicians, and a luau for 1,700 people.

All this spirited activity came from a community that only a year before had questioned their ability to cooperate, to inspire any real cohesion. What changed during that year can be found in the story of a people who reached into the past to rebuild their future. The celebration for the canoes is only one expression of a wider effort to restore community values in Ko'olau Loa, an effort that grew out of a future search conference held in February 1996.





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