This past November, the “Hawaii Island News”:http://www.hawaiiislandjournal.com/2007/1110a.html featured a cover story on Uncle Bobby, Uncle John Kekua, and Gary Puniwai. This article is about the canoe-building activities of the three men and their contributions to preserving Polynesian culture.
Here is an excerpt from the article:
A koa tree takes the better part of a century to grow to the height required by a canoe maker. A tree’s life doesn’t end once it is cut down, though. “A canoe is a living thing,” Kekua said. “A tree is a living thing. You make it into a canoe, it’s still living.”
There’s a lot more to what Kekua, Puakea and Puniwai are doing than simply building the vessels. Trees are given new life as gorgeous canoes. The sport of canoe racing gets a boost. And in teaching the craft to the next generation, another one of the world’s great traditions is being preserved. As Puakea notes, “It’s part of our heritage, and part of our culture. We love what we do. Bottom line.”