Born To Sail On Hokule’a
He moves with confidence as the surging Pacific Ocean rolls beneath Hikianalia. His strong legs are more than seaworthy. It is clear he’s at home on the deck of the voyaging canoe.
Maui Tauotaha was born to sail.
“Uncle Nainoa (Thompson) once looked me straight in the eyes and said, ‘Maui, you were born for this,’” says Tauotaha with great pride. “We all know there are many challenges during a voyage on many levels, but every time I come up to a challenge or obstacle, I know I’m going to be stronger because I’m meant to be here.”
Tauotaha reaches for the rope above him and pulls with force.
“Two more pulls, Maui!” shouts Capt. Bob Perkins. “Two more!”
Hikianalia’s sail rises toward the sun. One final pull! Hikianalia is now flying toward Diamond Head. The steady northeasterly wind is nature’s fuel for the vessel. Tauotaha’s work is done here, but his workday is from over.
“I’m so grateful to be a part of this voyage with the icon of Hokule’a and now Hikianalia,” says the 34-year-old Tauotaha. “I’m at the right place at the right time, and I’m very grateful that my path has led me here. Like Uncle Nainoa said, me and the wa’a is faith.”
The wa’a or canoe is Tauotaha’s destiny. His father Freddy is a world-renowned canoe carver from Tahiti and an accomplished paddler, while mom Linda Lou Livesay was a great paddler with Hui Nalu Canoe Club on Oahu.
The young Tauotaha’s connection with Hokule’a started in 1976 with his grandfather Puaniho Tauotaha during Hokule’a's first trip to Tahiti.
“The village of Tautira where my family is from was the home of Hokule’a in Tahiti back in 1976,” he explains. “The people of Tautira took care of the Hokule’a crew. My family fed them and reprovisioned them for their return trip to Hawaii. My grandfather later sailed on the Hokule’a from Tahiti to Hawaii in 1987 in the Voyage of Rediscovery.”
And it was because of Hokule’a that his parents met.
“After the first voyage in 1976, my mom came down from Hawaii to Tahiti with some of her friends from Hui Nalu Canoe Club,” says the 1997 Punahou graduate. “And because my father’s village of Tautira was the home of Hokule’a, they met there in Tahiti. I was born just a few years later.”
Tauotaha is now a senior editor with ‘Oiwi TV. He is excited about the opportunity to sail on Hokule’a's upcoming three-year worldwide journey that will cover 47,000 nautical miles and take them to more than 25 countries and 12 Marine World Heritage Sites.
“The worldwide voyage is about learning, and by using modern technology, we’re going to help spread many messages as we sail across the globe,” says Tauotaha. “The technology aboard this voyage is something the world has never seen before. It’s an amazing opportunity to share the stories that we gather from remote islands that people will never travel to.”
Tauotaha has been chosen to sail on the leg from Hawaii to Tahiti. Besides serving as a Hokule’a crew member, he also will serve multiple roles with ‘Oiwi TV as well.
“I want to help spread the message of Malama Honua, malama island Earth with the rest of the world,” says Tauotaha. “Our island is much like a canoe and we have limited resources, and we have to take care of those resources so they’ll be here for future generations. I can say that I’m only around because of Hokule’a, the Polynesian Voyaging Society and Hui Nalu Canoe Club. I owe my life to the wa’a. I’m very grateful to be here today, continuing that tradition of my family and my ancestors.”
This voyage was in the stars.