The Racing Canoe CarverTalk Story: Episode 7
“It’s a labor of love, you might say.”
An authentic canoe carver shares about the art and process of carving these sleek, beautiful vessels.
“Wa’a kaukahi,” or single-hulled outrigger canoes, have long been a staple of Hawaiian culture and tradition. Canoes were used by ancient Polynesian settlers to first travel to Hawaii and they later played vital roles in battles and wars. Since then, Hawaiians turned to canoes for voyages, fishing, and as a source as entertainment for racing. Today, paddling and racing remains a very active lifestyle throughout the islands. Local resident Michael Adams is a “kalai wa’a,” or canoe carver. His passion is creating wa’a kaukahi from single tree logs, usually Koa wood. He enjoys the authenticity of carving from a single piece of wood because it represents the old Hawaiian way. He crafts with a tool known as an “adze,” and the very labor intensive work requires much patience and care. Each piece of the log is chosen, cut, and placed carefully, meticulously fit together like a puzzle. This featured vessel took him seven years to complete and is named “kealakapu na holokai,” meaning “the sacred path for seafarers.” Michael continues to share his labor of love with Maui and its visitors as he hopes to carve another wa’a kaukahi from another full Koa tree.
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