“We are coming home as different people to a different Hawai‘i,” wrote Naʻālehu Anthony from aboard Hōkūleʻa as the voyaging canoe hit the midway point between Tahiti and O‘ahu, the final leg of a three-year journey around the world. He surely wasn’t the only one taking a moment to reflect on 40,000 nautical miles connecting 150 ports in 18 nations. Two hundred volunteer crewmembers and 50,000 eager welcomers gazed across the moving waters and felt some version of Anthony’s closing sentiment: “This voyage has changed us all.”
Hōkūleʻa’s return to Magic Island on June 17, 2017 marked the end of one long trek and the beginning of an epic celebration highlighted by the premiere of “Raise Hawaiki,” a composition by Dr. Michael-Thomas Foumai, a University of Hawai‘i music lecturer. The three-day expo featured guest speakers and the opportunity to climb aboard Hōkūleʻa. A gala fundraiser for the Polynesian Voyaging Society capped off the event, where Foumai performed his seven-minute piece with assistance by faculty and graduates of the UH Mānoa music program.
Foumai, a graduate of Roosevelt High School, earned his bachelor’s degree at UHM and his master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Michigan. He recently received the young composers award from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers for “Manookian Murals,” his composition in response to four paintings by Arman Manookian, famed for murals depicting scenes in Hawaiʻi. “Manookian Murals” was inspired by Elizabeth Wong, a local patron of the arts who introduced Foumai to Nainoa Thompson, president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society. He asked if Foumai would compose something for the gala.
“Raise Hawaiki” is a portion of an intended symphony for Hōkūleʻa’s completion of an eight-month tour of Hawai‘i. The work in celebration of the Hōkūleʻa’s Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage, is dedicated to the life and memory of Wallace L.T. Wong by Elizabeth and Isabella Wong.
Hōkūleʻa circles the globe using ancient wisdom of the stars and sea. A local musician, now a colleague of his former teachers, returns to his alma mater to guide the next generation. A lover of the arts connects a cultural ambassador to an emerging star. A lei around the planet, three years in the weaving, connects us all.