Canoe Traditions

  • The sport of Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe Paddling has so much history and culture associated with it that many teams lose sight of this and become focused on just the competitive side of the sport.
  • You must never forget that you are not just one of six people in a canoe on the open ocean. You are one of seven.
  • It is believed that canoes have a life to them. Each has a distinct and separate personality on the water. The canoe is part of the team and it carries all paddlers safely onto the water and home again.
  • We expect all paddlers to treat the canoes with respect and never take them for granted or treat them discourteously.
  • Respect every canoe as a family member. From the time a canoe is made and blessed, the canoe becomes an entity unto itself. Care for it as a loved one by maintaining it before setting out to sea and cleaning it after you return.
  • Never sit on, or step over a canoe (exceptions are sometimes made for dry-land training or demonstration purposes). In Hawai’i, it is believed that to step over another is to cut their life shorter. Therefore, the same applies to your canoe.
  • If you must, support the hull along the ku’e/keel in a way that will distribute the weight evenly to avoid placing too much stress at any one point.
  • On land, the canoe always faces the ocean. This relates back to ancient Hawai’i when canoes were frequently used to repel attacks from other islands. “Stacking” is sometimes necessary to accommodate available space (placing the ama of a subsequent canoe on the iako of a another canoe).
  • Care should also be taken for the area surrounding the canoe. Pick up opala (rubbish) on and around your paean wa’a (canoe landing), halau wa’a (canoe house), or auha (canoe shed). Put things away that need to be stored without being asked. Hoe aku i ka wa’a (do your share – move ahead the canoe)
  • Everyone helps when the canoe is being carried, covered, cleaned, or cared for. This includes loading and unloading the canoes, covering or storing them, cleaning them and washing them down with fresh water when they are dirty or after practice, and checking all parts of the canoe before and after practice. This applies to every member of the club from the first-time novice to the Head Coach.
  • From ancient times, whenever there was a large undertaking, everyone would help by doing whatever they could. The strong would do the work, the old would offer encouragement and advice, and the young would bring the water and food, but everyone would participate. A’ohe hana nui ka alu’ia (No task is too big when done together).
  • Customarily, a prayer is always said before every launching no matter how long or short the voyage. The prayer needn’t be long and perhaps not in Hawaiian, nor does it have to be religious in nature. Doing so helps center the crew mentally and spiritually.
    On water, avoid standing, arguing and swearing in the canoe. Standing is rarely a good idea for stability and safety reasons anyway. Arguing and swearing only serves to upset the entire crew’s efforts and creates animosity instead of aloha.
  • Avoid tracking dirt and sand into the canoe when you climb aboard. Ike aku, ike mai, kokua aku, kokua mai. Pela iho la ka nohana ohana (Recognize others, be recognized, help others, be helped. Such is a family relationship).
  • Learn the particular duties that go along with the seat you sit in. Once you step into canoe, you are part of a team. Therefore, every hoe wa’a (canoe mate) must work together by doing his or her share. The only way to know what is expected of each member is to have clearly defined assignments beforehand. Komo mai kau mapuna hoe (Dip your paddle in. Join in the effort.)
  • See to it that personal issues are put to rest quickly instead of letting them collect and fester in your mind. Remember, what happens on land, stays on land. What happens at sea, stays at sea.
  • Show respect, enthusiasm and commitment to your hoe wa’a by arriving on time to practice. Steersmen, coaches and other leaders should ALWAYS arrive early. A leader is never on time, he or she is always early.
  • Take the time to study and learn the proper Hawaiian names and pronunciation of the things you use. On this issue, if you choose to use Hawaiian terminology, take care in its pronunciation and use. Many Hawaiian words have multiple meanings or have different meanings if pronounced incorrectly. Lest you be guilty of olelo ho’ohepa (Idiot talk).