Hōkūleʻa Receives Spirited Welcome in San Francisco

Hawaiʻi’s voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge and into San Francisco Bay this morning before making a grand entrance into Aquatic Bay Cove at approximately 12:15 pm, escorted by the Coast Guard and dozens of outrigger canoes. The canoe and crew were greeted by an impressive fireboat water display and a roaring crowd of more than 3,000 excited to welcome them to the Bay Area. Joining the crew on board were three members of the Coast Miwok Tribe of what is now known as Marin and southern Sonoma counties, as well as renowned oceanographer, National Geographic Explorer in Residence and Founder of Mission Blue, Sylvia Earle. Members of the Ramaytush Ohlone tribe of the San Francisco area stood on the beach and granted permission for the crew to make their landing and go ashore.

Once the canoe was moored, the outrigger canoes formed a circle around Hōkūleʻa for a moment of reflection for Maui. Crew members then boarded the outrigger canoes, which shuttled them to shore to begin an exchange of cultural protocols with the Ramaytush Ohlone tribe. Both groups then proceeded to a stage for a welcome ceremony that included remarks by Gregg Castro representing the Ramaytush Ohlone tribe; Darlene Plumtree, CEO of the San Francisco Maritime National Park Association; and Aaron Peskin, president of the Board of Supervisors of San Francisco.

On behalf of the City and County of San Francisco, Peskin thanked the crew for spreading a message of hope around the world, saying Hōkūleʻa “inspires us to know that there is a different way that we can all come together, from Hawaiʻi all along the Pacific, the 43,000 nautical miles that the Hōkūleʻa will be traversing, all of those countries, all of those first peoples, all of those countries can come together to meet the imperative that we are now facing.”

Although California Governor Gavin Newsom was unable to attend, he sent an official proclamation, which was read at the event. “Californians’ love of the coast has played an important role in making our state a world leader in the movement to protect oceans and other natural resources from pollution. With the arrival of the Hōkūleʻa, we recognize the value of our natural ecosystems, the oceans and traditional knowledge, and affirm our commitment to inspiring successive generations of youth to build a better, brighter future for all,” Governor Newsom stated in the proclamation. He then declared, “Now Therefore I, Gavin Newsom, Governor of the State of California, do hereby proclaim September 24, 2023, as “Moananuiākea Welcome Day” in the State of California.”

After the dignitary welcomes and declaration reading, Polynesian Voyaging Society CEO and Pwo Navigator Nainoa Thompson addressed the audience with a message of urgency about protecting the earth’s oceans. “I donʻt believe there will ever be any healthy living system on the earth if the oceans are not healthy,” he said to rousing support from the audience. He added, “Because sometimes it gets pretty dark out there, the challenges before us seem like storms weʻll never get through, but when you see people come together, you always have a chance, so the Bay Area peoples, Sausalito and San Francisco, mahalo on behalf of our whole crew.”

At the end of his remarks, Thompson invited Earle to the stage. She spoke in praise of First Nations peoples and their deep connection to the land and sea: “Those fortunate, privileged individuals are the elders, they have knowledge borne of a long relationship with a place, with nature, learning how to use nature but not use all of it, always thinking about respect for that which keeps you alive.”

The welcome ceremony concluded with a “Blue Unity Pledge For The Ocean” signed by Thompson, Earle and Castro, announcing a commitment “to work together to safeguard the ocean and to protect our children’s future.”

The afternoon also featured tributes and performances by Bay Area hula halau and performers.

This is Hōkūleʻaʻs second visit to the Bay Area. The canoe sailed down the west coast to San Francisco 28 years ago, as part of the 1995 voyage “Na ʻOhana Holo Moana: The Voyaging Families of the Vast Ocean.”

Weather-permitting, Hōkūleʻa will be docked at Hyde Street Harbor until October 1, 2023. The public is welcome to board the canoe for a dockside tour on Sept. 25, 26 and 27, 1 to 4 pm. Visit www.hokulea.com for updates.

Supporters and sponsors of the Moananuiākea Voyage Bay Area engagement include Hawaiian Airlines, Kamehameha Schools, Coast Miwok, Ramaytush Ohlone, E2K Events, Hawaii Chamber of Commerce of Northern California, San Francisco Maritime National Park, Salesforce, Olukai, Salt + Air Productions, Northern California Outrigger Canoe Association, Tamalpais Canoe Club, Army Corp of Engineers, Patagonia, Dolphin Club, Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau and its Island Chapters.

Video: San Francisco Welcome Ceremony Highlights

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