Hawaiki is the name of the mythical homeland of the Polynesian people and among the multiple meanings of the phrase “Raise Hawaiki” is the dream of legendary Hawaiian waterman, Eddie Aikau, of seeing Tahiti rise from the sea aboard the Hōkūleʻa, a replica of an ancient Polynesian voyaging canoe. The title is taken from Aikau’s resolve to “Raise Hawaiki from the sea.”
Raise Hawaiki began with the idea of a work to celebrate the return of Hōkūleʻa from the worldwide voyage Mālama Honua in 2017. At the request of navigator Nainoa Thompson, I composed a short piece celebrating Hōkūleʻaʻs homecoming for a chamber ensemble of strings and piano that was premiered at the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s Homecoming Gala, Lei Kaʻapuni Honua (A Lei Around the World). Building on themes from that chamber work, I then expanded Raise Hawaiki in form and scored it for orchestra and chorus. In eight movements, the work is framed with two narrative arcs. The first five movements touch upon themes surrounding Hōkūleʻa’s 1976 maiden voyage to Tahiti and the last three movements on events surrounding Eddie Aikau.
The words of Raise Hawaiki, edited by Dr. Puakea Nogelmeier, are inspired by interviews and speeches given by members of the Hōkūleʻa voyaging crew including Eddie Aikau, Sam Kaʻai, Sam Low, Mau Piailug and Nainoa Thompson.
The Wallace, Elizabeth and Isabella
Wong Family Foundation
Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra
Oʻahu Choral Society
Polynesian Voyaging Society
University of Hawaiʻi Foundation
University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Hawaiʻi Youth Opera Chorus
IONA Contemporary Dance Theatre
UH Kapiʻolani Community College
UH West Oʻahu
Dr. Esther S. Yoo
Conductor and OCS Artistic Director
Director of HYOC, Hawaiian Chorus UHM
Dr. Jace Saplan
Director of Choral Activites UHM
March 28, 2019
Honnlulu, HI, USA
Eddie Aikau is one of the most respected names in surfing and was the first lifeguard at Waimea Bay on the island of Oʻahu. In the storm of 1978, in an attempt to get to land to save his crew and the Hōkūleʻa, Aikau paddled toward Lānaʻi on his surfboard. Hours later, a commercial airplane spotted Hōkūleʻa and the rest of the crew was soon rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard. Aikau was missing at sea and despite great search efforts, he was never seen again.
Sam Ka‘ai is a master woodcarver and artist, a Hawaiian cultural guide and mentor for Native Hawaiians who had lost sight of their essential history. Kaʻai carved two kiʻis – a man and a woman for Hōkūleʻa. The female figure would be lashed to the port manu, the male kiʻi to the starboard. In 1978, ‘80 and ‘85, Ka‘ai sailed as a crewmember aboard the Hōkūle‘a.
Sam Low is a journalist, historian and the author of Hawaiki Rising, a book about Hōkūleʻa from her construction and maiden voyage to subsequent trials and successes. Low first sailed on Hōkūleʻa in 1999 from Mangareva to Rapa Nui.
Mau Piailug, was a Pwo master navigator from a small island called Satawal, in Micronesia. He agreed to come to Hawai‘i and guide Hōkūle‘a to Tahiti. Without him, the dream to recover voyaging would never have taken place. Mau was the only traditional navigator and last navigator of his generation who was willing and able to reach beyond his culture to teach and guide a new generation of navigators.
Nainoa Thompson is the president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and master navigator. Inspired by his kūpuna, his teachers, he has dedicated his life to exploring the deep meaning of voyaging. Mau Piailug taught him to see the natural signs he would use to guide Hōkūleʻa throughout Polynesia and the world.
Dr. Puakea Nogelmeier is a Professor Emeritus of UH Mānoa where he taught Hawaiian language for 35 years. After decades of study in Hawaiian language, culture, and history, he co-founded Awaiaulu in 2003 to foster a new generation of resource people and fortify the use of Hawaiian knowledge. In 2018, Dr. Nogelmeier supervised the Hawaiian tranlsation for the Hawaiian language version of Disney's Moana.
THE MOVEMENTS OF RAISE HAWAIKI
I. Ao (Dawn)
Beginning with dawn, a fanfare of four pitches in the form of a sail and symbolic of the four syllables of the name Hōkūleʻa, opens the work symbolizing the awakening of the Hawaiian consciousness as the chorus chants for the blessing of the heavens and ancestors.
II. Kkapesen Neimatau (The Talk of the Sea)
Mau Piailug came to Hawaiʻi to train Nainoa Thompson in “The Talk of the Sea,” the knowledge to navigate the seas. The instrumental families symbolize the sea, stars and man. High woodwinds are kept in the high register of the stars; the strings sustain a glacial and oceanic-like block chord. In between these two textures, a chorus of male voices sings music of learning, of questions, a lesson and conversation between master and apprentice reading the stars and seas.
III. Raise Hawaiki
On May 31st 1976, the 30th day of Hōkūleʻa’s maiden voyage, the island of Mataiva rose from the horizon. Continuing without pause from the previous movement, melodies from first movement return in the strings and winds in an orchestral interlude. Propulsive rhythms in the brass and percussion herald the excitement of land rising from the sea leading directly into the next movement.
IV. Maeva! (Welcome!)
When Hōkūle‘a arrived at the beach in Pape‘ete Harbor, over half the island’s people were there, more than 17,000 strong. Entering the harbor, the sounds of drums, voices, singing, dancing and praise welcomed the arrival of Hōkūleʻa. The chorus sings in a chorale like hymn alternating with episodes of praise exclaiming Maeva! (Welcome in Tahitian), Maeva Hōkūleʻa!
V. Nā Mamo (The Children)
Hōkūle‘a’s first voyage to Tahiti in 1976 was a tremendous success and there was a spontaneous affirmation of their great seafaring heritage. Inspired by the words of Sam Kaʻai, the chorale melody from Maeva returns slower and reverent in strings with a chorus of female voices. Nā Mamo speaks to the descendants of Hawaiʻi, the children, a call to stand and be proud of their heritage and culture.
VI. Puleileho (Storm)
In 1978, Hōkūle‘a set out for Tahiti again. The heavily loaded canoe capsized in stormy seas off of Moloka‘i. The next day, crewmember Eddie Aikau left on a surfboard to get help. Solo timpani herald a coming storm and a steady pulse in the low strings sets the stage for a dark night. Brass fanfares are pit against a turbulent orchestral seascape and with words inspired by Nainoa Thompson, the chorus recounts in strophic form, the birth of a hero in the darkest of times. The chorus concludes with a farewell “Go Eddie Go” before the orchestra closes with a return to the four-pitch Hōkūleʻa motive and the emergence of a new Eddie theme.
VII. Eddie’s Dream
The crew was rescued from the storm of 1978, but Eddie was lost at sea. After the tragedy, Nainoa Thompson recalled, “Eddie had this dream about finding islands the way our ancestors did. He was saying to me, ‘Raise Hawaiki from the sea.’” With a noble orchestral procession, the chorus sings in a hymn-like prayer with fragments of Eddie’s theme serving as a guiding star to urge the listener to hear the dream, to go and Raise Hawaiki.
VIII. Hawaiʻi’s Pride
The final movement continues from the previous movement, sets the words of Eddie Aikau’s song, Hawaiʻi’s Pride, and celebrates the 2014-17 worldwide voyage, Mālama Honua, “to care for our Earth.” Fulfilling Eddie Aikau’s dream to sail for the future of the children of the world, the chorus concludes exclaiming “Kaulana ē ka holo a Hōkūleʻa!”(Famous are the voyages of Hōkūleʻa!).
The work, in celebration of Hōkūleʻa’s Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage, is dedicated to the life and memory of Wallace L.T. Wong by Elizabeth and Isabella Wong.
Perusal recording available by request.
April 13, 2019: Hawaiʻi Youth Opera Chorus; Nola Nāhulu (1,5,7,8)
April 11, 2019: University of Hawaiʻi Hawaiian Chorus and University Chorus; Nola Nāhulu (1,5,7,8)
March 28, 2019: Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra, Oʻahu Choral Society; Esther Yoo
March 9, 2019: Hawaiʻi Youth Symphony II, Hawaiʻi Youth Opera Chorus; Elton Masaki (5 and 8)