Recalling Kulaia History

Molokai Canoe Festivals Committee News Release

Historical records dating back to 1865 note Hawaiian outrigger canoe race competitions as one of the many events our kupuna took part in during annual la kulaia, days of festivities honoring the Kingdom of Hawaii and especially honoring our beloved monarchy. During that era, kulaia generally occurred once a year during a national holiday or birthday celebration of a mo`i (monarch).

After the overthrow of our beloved Hawaiian Kingdom, kulaia festivities changed focus and no longer celebrated the Kingdom and monarchy. In historical records, we see the shift from national celebration to simply canoe race competitions. Therefore, pieces of our historic kulaia were lost and forgotten.

In the early years of the Molokai Hoe along with the Aloha Festivals Ho`olaule`a at Hale o Lono, Molokai had its own version of the historic celebration. The festivities lasted for a weekend with campsites from one end of Hale o Lono to the other and the spirit of `ohana and aloha radiated. Molokai `ohana, paddlers, visitors, spectators, and many others who came from the neighbor islands, outer states, and other countries all gathered together.

In recent years, history was repeated; the idea of kulaia was forgotten, as the canoe races continued without the festival. Wanting to revive the spirit of the festivals here on Molokai, Molokai Canoe Festivals Committee, whose members share the vision of bringing back the festivals to our community and sharing the true Molokai aloha and hospitality to our visiting brothers and sisters of the paddling `ohana. This practice of kulaia is an important cultural tradition that connects us to our ali`i and our kupuna. Join us on Friday, Sept. 23, from 5 to 10 p.m. for the third annual Kulaia Ho`olaule`a in downtown Kaunakakai.


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