Outrigger Traditions and Culture

In the beginning A (pronounced ahh), the eternal light giver, created Namaka O Ka Hai (the great power of the sea). But A saw the seas were alone, so he freed the force Pele. Pele created the lands. To keep them above her jealous sister, she constantly renewed them. The people who found these lands named it Hawai`i, hailing it as a place of blessed aloâ or aloha meaning in the presence of A. Life in old Hawai’i was a spiritual experience. There was aloha everywhere: in the people, plants, animals, rocks and reefs. Aloha was even in the canoes, paddles, and the tools used to make them.

But aloha is more than a word, it’s a way of life. If there is life, there is mana, goodness, and wisdom. If there is goodness and wisdom in a person, there is a god-quality. One must recognize the god of life in another before saying Aloha. It means mutual regard and affection and extends warmth in caring with no obligation in return. It is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other person for collective existence. It is to hear what is not said, to see what cannot be seen and to know the unknowable.

To say aloha to another with indifference is blasphemous, just as saying mahalo ungraciously is profane. Therefore, when one says aloha to another, one must mean it sincerely. If you are angry with someone, you must cleanse away all ill feeling before saying aloha. It is said, and given, freely and without condition or expectation and with the realization that it may not be returned but it is given without regrets nonetheless. It is this concept more than any other that distinguishes the Hawaiian culture. It also allows an outrigger club and its’ members to grow and thrive. A club’s leaders, more than any other, should understand, and be possessed of, this concept. It is not enough to be in charge, one must lead by example.

There are many traits that express the charm, the warmth, the sincerity, the generosity, and the love of an intangible substance or spirit known to many in Hawai`i nei as ALOHA.

Aloha is appropriate when it comes to your hoa waâ (canoe mates) and your competitors. Every race is an occasion for the celebration of team spirit, meeting the challenge of competition, the test of determination, and the solidarity of club pride. So what are these traits?

Akahai – Kindness
Help others where you can, let others help where possible. Remember to give credit where credit is due and do not take credit at another’s expense.

Lokahi – Unity
Unity is to a club, what water is to a farmer. Take away a club’s unity, and the club becomes a lifeless desert. By maintaining club unity you maintain a common goal and individuals are possessed with a common motive.

`Olu`olu – Agreeable
Commend in public, condemn in private. Remember a good judge of character corrects what he hears by what he sees, a bad judge of character corrupts what he sees by what he hears.

Ha`aha`a – Humility
Pride brings destruction, humility brings honor. If you are humble, you consider yourself the servant of others. You do not act or feel superior to others. Remember that a leader who excels in employing others humbles himself before them.

Ahonui – Patience
Never remember small faults, never forget small favors. The development of patience challenges the strongest by the minute to break away and take the easy road. It is something to admire and respect in someone, but often over looked because patience is hidden in all of us.

Kawika Sands

  • Please speak up if you see a submerged log or swimmer in the water, have an injury or emergency, or see a boat that is headed towards the canoe.
  • In general, practices should be focused and meditative, and the only person who should be speaking while paddling is the steersperson or coach. Don’t talk story, grumble or complain in the canoe. If you have comments, suggestions or concerns, speak to the steersperson or a board member alone after or before practice.
  • Always provide your best effort when in the canoe, and mentally focus on your and your teammate’s strengths and contributions. Paddling well means paddling efficiently and with good technique. Bring positive energy and thoughts into the canoe with you and support your teammates at all times.
  • It is believed that canoes have a life to them. Each has a distinct and separate personality on the water. The canoe is part of the team, and carries all paddlers safely onto the water and home again. We expect all paddlers to treat the canoes with respect and never take them for granted or treat them discourteously.
  • Never sit or lean on a canoe except in the designated seat area once the canoe is in the water. Even sitting in the seat on land can cause the canoe to crack. When canoes are lifted, be sure the ama and ‘iako are supported and off the ground. Canoes should not be dropped, but set down lightly.
  • Don’t step over the body of the canoe. If you need to move to the other side, walk around the canoe. It is a gesture of courtesy to the canoe to do so.