Saturday, February 23, 2008

Hokulea Launching Chant

Ia Wa’a Nui

This traditional chant was used at the launching of Høküle'a on March 8, 1975. After the canoe was launched at Hakipu'u (in Kualoa Regional Park), it was paddled out, then back toward shore. The captain was Herb Kawainui Kåne, co-founder of the Polynesian Voyaging Society; the kahuna was Ka'upena Wong, assisted by Kalena Silva and Keli'i Tau'å. As the canoe approached shore, the crew paddled to the following chant. (“The stroke is slow. The paddle is struck a little in front of the paddler on the return of the paddle. The timing is thus: Ia wa’a [thump] nui [thump], ia wa'a [thump] kioloa [thump], ia wa'a [thump] peleleu [thump].”)

Ia wa’a nui (That large canoe)
Ia wa’a kioloa (That long canoe)
Ia wa ‘a peleleu (That broad canoe)
A lele måmala (Let chips fly)
A manu a uka (The bird of the upland)
A manu a kai (The bird of the lowland)
' I'iwi pølena (The red Hawaiian honeycreeper (a native bird; the young 'i'iwi was yellowish—“pølena”))
A kau ka høkü (The stars hang above)
A kau i ka malama (The daylight arrives)
A pae i kula (Bring [the canoe] ashore)
‘Åmama, ua noa (‘Åmama, the kapu is lifted)

After the canoe landed and the kapu on it was lifted, the kahuna asked: “Pehea ka wa'a, pono anei?” (“How is the canoe, is it good?”); Those aboard answered: “'Ae, maika'i loa ka wa'a Høküle'a” (“Yes, the canoe is very good indeed!”)

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