‘Imiloa’s annual wayfinding event goes virtual this year with live panel of five Hōkūle‘a alum, Oct. 23

The panel of five presenters are Snake Ah Hee, Kālepa Baybayan, John Kruse, Gordon Piʻianaiʻa, and Billy Richards. Dan Mclnerny, executive director of the Ama Olukia Foundation, will introduce and moderate the presentation.

Voyaging canoe with info: Hokulea The Rival Begins 1975-1980, Free Online Event, 10/23/2020, Learn more.
Click on image for registration information to attend virtual panel presentation.

‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, a part of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, will hold its 13th annual wayfinding event in a live video format this year.

Kaiu Kimura
Ka‘iu Kimura

The event, entitled, “Hōkūleʻa: The Revival Begins, 1975-1980,” will feature a live panel with five former captains and crew of the Hōkūleʻa and other voyaging canoes in a talk-story session about the history of the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s formative years up to the Hōkūleʻa.

The event, free and open to the public, is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Registration is required.

“Keeping our voyaging stories and connections alive is a kuleana that ʻImiloa embraces,” says Kaʻiu Kimura, executive director of ‘Imiloa. “We are anxiously excited to be offering our first ever live virtual presentation to share these first-hand experiences.”

The panel

A panel of select crew members will share their remarkable stories and unprecedented experiences associated with the early years of the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

Snake Ah Hee was born and raised in Lāhaina, Maui. His family spent much time on the water fishing, paddling and surfing where he developed his water skills and a familiarity with the ocean. Ah Hee sailed on the return leg of Hōkūleʻa’s inaugural voyage to Tahiti in 1975. Since then, he has sailed on every Tahiti to Hawai’i voyage.

Chad Kālepa Baybayan is the navigator-in-residence at ‘Imiloa developing wayfinding activities, curriculum materials, and conducting outreach. He first sailed on the Hōkūleʻa in 1975 and has served as captain on the Hōkūleʻa as well as the voyaging canoes Hawai‘iloa and Hōkūalaka‘i. In 2007, he and four other Hōkūleʻa navigators were initiated into the order of Pwo (the three-thousand-year-old society of deep-sea navigators in Micronesia) by their teacher, Mau Piailug, on the tiny atoll of Satawal in the Caroline Islands, Micronesia.

John Kruse began helping with the construction of Hōkūleʻa under master craftsmen Wright Bowman and Wally Froiseth. He was selected as a crewmember on Hōkūleʻa’s maiden voyage to Tahiti in 1976 and later went on to co-found Kauaʻi’s voyaging society Nā Kālai Waʻa o Kauaʻi.

Gordon Piʻianaiʻa is a geographer and an educator. He was the director of the Hawaiian Studies Institute at Kamehameha Schools and a retired naval officer. In 1976, 1980, and 1985 he served as captain on board Hōkūleʻa.

Billy Richards is a community servant who serves as a member of the ‘Aha Kāne, a Native Hawaiian Men’s Health Program, the Bishop Museum Association Council, the Friends of Hōkūleʻa and Hawai’iloa, Kānehunamoku Voyaging Academy, and Maiden Voyaging Productions. He has been an integral part of Hawaiʻi’s voyaging community since 1975 and has voyaged aboard Hōkūleʻa, Hawaiʻiloa, Makaliʻi, Hōkūalakaʻi, and Hikianalia throughout the Pacific and around the world.

Dan McInerney
Dan McInerney

Dan Mclnerny, executive director of the Ama Olukia Foundation, will introduce and moderate the presentation.

“The Ama Olukai Foundation has been a proud sponsor of ʻImiloa’s annual wayfinding celebration for the past several years and we are happy to continue our support of this important cause,” says McInerny. “Our mission is to partner with organizations that honor Hawaiian culture and traditions by preserving the ocean and land, and ʻImiloa is an incredible resource for our community that does just that.”


‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, an UH Hilo education outreach center with museum and planetarium, brings together members of the Hawaiian and astronomy communities to share the cultural and natural history of Maunakea. Many events highlight the modern renaissance of Hawaiian culture and wayfinding with parallel growth of astronomy and scientific developments on Hawai‘i Island.

The Ama Olukai Foundation is a nonprofit that supports programs that are designed to serve Hawaiian communities, partnering with organizations that promote the Hawaiian culture from its ancestral past to present day. The group has been a sponsor of  ʻImiloa’s Annual Wayfinding celebration for the past several years.