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The crew of Hokule'a.
Sunday, October 10, 1999
by Juan P. Soler, "Gazette Te Rapa Nui"
Off the coast of Tahai, at 7:00 AM (Saturday, October 9), the gazette "Te Rapa Nui" observed Hokule'a advancing from the west to the island. At 8:30 AM, the slender double canoe with
reddish sails stopped its movement, just in front of the small harbor of Hanga Piko. Chilean Navy officers
went aboard to legalize its entrance to the National Territory. Marcos Rapu, a well known Rapanui artist,
went up aboard too. As minutes passed by, many islanders arrived in the port area. One of the Huke Atan
brothers lit a fire in the coast, saluting the canoe in the traditional way. Others did the same thing next to
the Moai of that place. But, unforeseen, the canoe was towed to the north, to the neigbour bay of Hanga
Roa. The sea conditions of the wind and sea waves, advised to wait before crossing the strait and risky
access channel to the protected waters of Hanga Piko. Over there, artists from Matato'a and Hotu Iti
chanted and danced unceasingly. Also,there were some Rapa Nui Tupana representatives (elders): Kiko
Pate, Juan Chávez, Analola Tuki, among others, and HawaiianTupunas who had arrived in previous days
via Lan Chile (airlines).
When it seemed that the Hokule'a would remain anchored at Hanga Roa bay, suddenly she began a quick
movement back toward Hanga Piko, towed by the escort boat Kama Hele. The sound of seashells blown
by strong lungs and the touching palpitation of some 300 islanders that still remained in the place received
the double-hulled canoe that went in with decision through the channel of access, guided by an islander's
fishing boat. The songs that had not ceased all morning acquired a thin melancholy tone from hearts that
meet a remote past, which is still alive.
While the Hokule'a was being tied up to land, a crew member dressed in old Hawaiian style, greeted the
island with the whole power of his voice, in ancestral language. Juan Chávez answered smoothly, while a
young Rapanui woman threw flowers petals to the canoe. Mayor Pedro Edmunds headed the greetings of
welcome, with Sol P. Kaho'ohalahala, member of Hawai'i State House of Representatives, and J. Kalani
English, a council member of county of Maui. Once on land, crew members were hugged by deeply
moved islanders. Some couldn't contain themselves, and tears flowed at the gathering and fraternal
bonding with sailors of Polynesian ancestors arriving on the Island for the first time in modern times--just
like legendary king Hotu Matua did some 1500 years ago.
July 14, 1999, "Reaching the Marquesas"
July 31, 1999, "In Taiohae, Nukuhiva"
August 13, 1999, "Departing Atuona"
August 27, 1999, "Headed for Mangareva"
September 13, 1999, "Voyage Preparations"
September 22, 1999, "Departing Mangareva"
September 29, 1999, "Finding Rapa Nui: The Latest Strategy"