Thursday, August 4, 2011

Her Honor


Fifth Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe was born and raised on the Garden Isle

She started out as a social worker, but soon turned to the law. Today, and every day on the bench, Judge Kathleen Watanabe keeps in mind her deep Kaua’i roots, and the working class values she learned growing up.

Fifth Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe talks about her circuitous route to the bench, and how impressed she is with Kaua’i citizens called to jury duty

Her eloquence and forthrightness can be intimidating, but Fifth Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe isn’t your average austere adjudicator.

In fact, anyone who has been in Watanabe’s courtroom knows she is just as much about empathizing with those before her as she is about taking her professionalism seriously. It’s a balance that makes it particularly inspirational to watch her handle cases, which have included some of the most historical and ground-breaking the Garden Isle has ever seen.

“I always remind myself I’m dealing with people’s lives and their freedom,” says the Kapa’a High alumna. “The least I can do is be thoroughly prepared.”

Born and raised on Kaua’i, Watanabe has always been driven and has always wanted to do the island proud.

Not your typical child, Watanabe, who fondly remembers spending weekend afternoons with her father at the library, usually asked for books for Christmas. “My father, Silas Aqui, taught us the importance of reading,” she says. “We didn’t have a whole lot of money, but we would spend time reading in the library and I would look forward to that.”

And when it came to her studies, she couldn’t get enough. As a junior in high school, Watanabe was an exchange student with a family in Portland, Ore. “It was such an experience,” she says. “I found there were classes I had never heard of. I found the curriculum to be very hard, so I was determined. I got straight A’s. I felt so happy about that – it was a personal accomplishment. Bringing that home to Kaua’i, I felt like, ‘Look, it can be done.’”

Now a judge, Watanabe has a different determination: to be fair, prepared, thorough and to educate the public.

And when it comes to weighing any kind of judgment, she always, no matter what it takes, takes everything she can into consideration, she says.

“I will consider the presentence investigation report, because they spend a lot of time and effort on that, and the intent is for it to assist the judge,” she says. “But at the same time I don’t follow it blindly, because I believe it is my responsibility to come up with appropriate sentencing. I will consider what the prosecutor and defense attorney have to say. I listen to the defendant, consider the impact statements and any kind of letter of support. … It goes without being said that I am fully apprised of all the information so I can make a fully informed decision.”

It should come as no surprise with the above in mind that Watanabe’s work ethic is something of which she is most proud, yet something for which she doesn’t take direct credit.

In her chambers: ‘I’m always impressed with our citizenry’

“I am a very hard worker,” she says. “I have always been, my entire life. I attribute that to my parents who had six kids, no formal education and struggled their whole lives.”

Watanabe’s family history shows a penchant for working hard, and she describes her maternal Hawaiian grandmother – who worked in the pineapple cannery as a supervisor and as an orderly at the state hospital – as someone who had a strong personality and commanded that things get done a certain way.

“For her time, and as a female, she took on some challenging and hard positions,” she says.

No doubt that description could apply to Watanabe herself. But she also credits some of her attributes to her paternal grandfather and maternal grandparents, she says.

“My paternal grandfather from the Philippines eventually got into the tourist industry as a tour guide,” she says. “He had the gift of gab.”

Watanabe’s maternal grandmother, a picture bride from Okinawa, was a stay-at-home mom who never learned to speak English, and her maternal grandfather also was a “very hardworking Okinawan,” Watanabe says.

“He worked two jobs: as a mason and a dairyman,” she says. “I remember them both working so hard. I say my work ethic is something I got through my grandparents and my parents. It’s what I am most proud of.”

An advocate of the people since she first got her career start in social work, Watanabe always knew she was going to come home after she finished her education. In fact, she initially chose social work over medicine because she believed those extra years of schooling would keep her away too long.

It wasn’t until Watanabe returned to Kaua’i after earning her bachelor’s degrees in sociology and psychology from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma that she realized she might need further education if she really wanted to make a difference.

“I actually found out I didn’t have a whole lot of authority or influence on program decisions,” she says. “I was that typical social worker-type with grandiose ideas of how to make things better for people. I ended up going on to law school thinking I would become an attorney and then have more authority to make change.”

And she built up quite a resume after making that decision. Following her short career as a social worker, Watanabe attended the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law, and then quickly got to work as an attorney practicing administrative and employment law. Following that, she became a hearings officer for Hawaiian Home Lands Commission, where she dealt with Native Hawaiians waiting for homestead property.

She then became supervisor of the Employment Law Division as deputy attorney general, where she headed up Human Resources Development until January 2003, when she became director of the entire department.

“I became the client – I thoroughly enjoyed that,” Watanabe says of her tenure as the director of human resources. “I gave the deputy attorneys some headaches. I was determined to contribute and make a difference for the employees and for people who filed cases or claims against the state. It gave me some insight, having been the attorney and becoming the client. I thought it gave me a well-rounded perspective.”

It must have, as following a short two-and-a-half years as a director, former Gov. Linda Lingle appointed the well-rounded attorney as Fifth Circuit Court judge, replacing Clifford Nakea. Watanabe says she was honored by the opportunity, which couldn’t have come at a better time.

“It was the ultimate goal to return home,” she says. “Both my daughters were in college on the Mainland, and it felt good to be serving people on Kaua’i again – my career has always been focused on public service – and being on Oahu gave me an advantage. It made the transition from attorney to judge easier.”

Now halfway through her 10-year appointment as a judge, Watanabe says she hopes she will be retained for another 10-year term.

“I thoroughly enjoy what I’m doing,” she says. “It’s been a whirlwind of experience.”

As for what she loves most about her job, Watanabe alludes again to the public, noting it is the public for which she is most grateful.

“My favorite part of being a judge is presiding over jury trials,” she says. “I have a great deal of faith in our jurors. I’m always impressed at how you can take 12 people who usually don’t know each other very well and make them sit throughout this trial from a couple of days to several weeks, and see how dedicated they are.”

Watanabe, who has presided over more than 100 bench and jury trials, said she continues to have the greatest faith in people.

“I am always impressed by our citizenry,” she says.

If a juror seems to not be enjoying his or her jury duty, Watanabe says she takes that as a personal challenge.

“I want them to gain something from this experience,” she says. “It’s a twoway street. My goal is to have them at the end say, ‘I learned something and I’d do it again.’”

Away from the office, she enjoys reading mystery and suspense novels and traveling with her family. She’s also a movie buff, favoring espionage and action-packed movies.

“My all-time favorite pastime,” she adds, “is being ‘Nana’ to my three grandsons, Dylan, 5; Ryder, 3 months, and Kalaunuiohua, 2 months.

Waka Moana Farewell


Kaua’i bid a hui hou to seven South Pacific waka moana (voyaging canoes) at a pa’ina celebration July 11 in Hanalei. A potluck party for the crews and the community wrapped up a five-day stay for the voyagers, which kicked off with welcoming ceremonies July 6. The fleet is comprised of canoes from Aotearoa (New Zealand), Fiji, the Cook Islands, Samoa, Tahiti and two Pan Pacific canoes, which will now head northeast to San Francisco before continuing the Te Mana o Te Moana voyage, which seeks to “renew ties to the sea and its life sustaining strength.”

Monday, August 1, 2011

Justice At Last for Sandy G?

Note: Please join in next week's anti-domestic violence 4th Annual Never Forget Sandy G golf tournament: 7:30 a.m. this Sunday, Aug. 7 at Kaua'i Lagoons Golf Club


With their murdered daughter Sandra's birthday approaching, Toshie and Lawrence Mendonca have not given up in pushing prosecutors and police to stay on the case. They have, and now it seems justice may be close at hand for 'Sandy G';. Amanda C. Gregg photo

Like any proud father, Lawrence Mendonca goes through pictures of his daughter with a smile.”This one is in Japan,” he says of a photograph of his then-7-year old daughter, Sandra Galas, sitting on the floor, arranging red gladiolas. Though it’s been some 26 years since that picture was taken, Mendonca admires it bittersweetly, as this week – May 15 – would have marked Sandra’s 33rd birthday.

The once celebratory day now puts a spotlight on the lack of closure his family has had since Jan. 25, 2006, when they first got word that 27-year-old Galas, a young and vibrant mother of two young boys, had been found murdered in her car in the sleepy Westside town of ‘Ele’ele. Every year since then, instead of celebrating the birthday with their daughter and her two sons, then 5 and 3 (now 11 and 8), Lawrence and his wife Toshie visit Galas’s gravesite. It’s a somber tradition followed by either dinner at the Beach House Restaurant in Poipu, where Sandy was assistant food and beverage manager, or dinner at home, making “something that we know Sandy liked,” Mendonca says.

Sandy and big brother Lawrence

It’s now been more than five years since the Mendoncas received the worst phone call any family can get, notifying them that their daughter had been killed. And while it’s no secret to the rest of the island that the hunt for her killer continues – posters and “Never Forget Sandy G” bumper stickers are on display all over the island – it’s less known how dedicated and determined Mendonca has been.

“I made a vow from day one,” Mendonca says, “that I will not rest until justice is served.”

For Mendonca, “justice” means the capture of his daughter’s murderer, bringing that person or persons to trial and getting a conviction. And while that seems a long road ahead, it’s also been a long but continuous road so far, one that has demonstrated Mendonca’s dedication, to say the least.

That dedication has led to several small victories in the case over the past several years, victories like new DNA testing technologies and getting the case looked at by key experts. But these little advances in the case haven’t happened without Mendonca’s pressing. Mendonca has played a large role in getting the case moved forward and analyzed by the right people – which has no doubt prevented it from going cold. So far that’s meant collaborating with then-new Chief of Police Darryl Perry, as well as Prosecuting Attorney Shaylene Carvalho and her deputy Jake Dela Plane.

May 15 would be Sandra’s 33rd birthday

Perry worked to get the case reviewed by a cold case crew on O’ahu, along with requesting Supervising Deputy Attorney General Chris Young to review the case. Perry was inspired, to say the least, following his meeting with Mendonca when he first took office on Kauai in 2007.

“We discussed Sandy’s case and we went out to the gravesite,” Perry said. “I made a promise to him and Sandy that we would not rest until this case is brought to justice. And we are still investigating the case and still moving it forward. We’ve been taking large steps in analysis of DNA and other evidence that we have in our evidence room. I feel we’re getting close to solving this case, but there is still a lot more to do.”

Mendonca also has been working to get things done, like getting the attention of media heavy hitters such as TV producers Vince Sturla of Dateline NBC, Gabrielle Saunders of 48 Hours and Denise Poon of America’s Most Wanted, who came to the Island to tape segments for Sandy’s story.

The Mendonca family

“A lot has been done, but we must not forget there is still a long way to go,” Mendonca says. “As I look into the case at what we have so far, it takes every ounce of energy to push myself forward with the matters at hand. My family and I have placed our trust in KPD and the legal justice system to bring this case to a close, no matter how long it takes.”

And while the progress has been slow, Mendonca doesn’t take it for granted.

“We want a conviction and I won’t give up,” he said. “It’s frustrating and sometimes I just want to quit … But her murderer will be brought to trial.”

Sandy was full of life. Photos courtesy Mendonca family

Mendonca is familiar enough with the case to present it to a jury himself. Having watched closely as three detectives have been assigned to his daughter’s case, he’s learned more than the average person wants to about the murder investigation process. It’s also stirred in him a desire to reach out and help young women better protect themselves. In an effort to make a dent in violence against women, Mendonca has partnered up for four years with the YWCA Kauai and Dennis (Mendonca’s cousin) and Susan Cabral, in hosting the Never Forget Sandy G Golf Tournament, which will happen Aug. 7 at Kaua’i Lagoons Golf Course. It’s a fitting match, as the YWCA Kauai’s mission includes empowering women against violence. Money raised from the event will go to the YWCA to help abused women and children.

The tournament is just one more way Mendonca is trying to honor his daughter’s memory, which, unfortunately for him and his wife hasn’t included getting to help raise her sons the way Sandra would have wanted. The Mendoncas only get to see their daughter’s children at T-ball games, as they are in the custody of their father, Sandra’s ex-husband Darren Galas, who was arrested and held for 48 hours following her murder. He was then released and no charges were filed against him.

sandra on her wedding day

What honoring her memory does include is taking time to remember `Sandy for all that she was, even as a little girl, he says: “She was always so full of energy. She wanted to do all and everything – now.”

Recalling, for example, Galas’s older brother Lawrence Jr. started school, “she was very upset because she couldn’t go to school also,” he says. When it was finally her turn to go to St. Catherine’s School, Sandy was determined to do well.

“She was rewarded with a trophy for perfect attendance from first through eighth grade,” Mendonca says. “It’s still on display at St. Catherine’s School.”

Besides a perfect attendance record, Galas also shined as a gymnast at age 4 and dancing hula at 5. By the time she was in 7th grade, she had dreams of becoming a journalist. Mendonca said she seemed to have an inner drive pushing her to challenge herself.

sandy’s attendance trophy at st. catherine’s

“In college (at University of Hawai-Hilo) she wasn’t satisfied with just 15 credit hours,” Mendonca says. “She wanted to take more.

I had to forbid her from taking more than 15 credit hours … I said don’t over-burden yourself, you’ll burn out.”

Carrying a heavy course load was in addition to working as an RA in the dorms, as well as interning at the student paper.

In addition to remembering Sandra and striving to get her killer brought to trial, Mendonca says he’d like to extend his family’s appreciation to all the people at KPD and the prosecutor’s office for working hard over the past “fast five years” to bring this crime to justice.

“Also our deepest appreciation goes to our friends who have always been there with their moral and legal support… Without which this would be unbearable.”

The Mendonca family is offering a $20,000 reward to anyone with information that could lead to an arrest and conviction of their daughter’s killer. If you have information, call the Kaua’i Police Department at 241-1700.

Voyager in his own right

John Kruse and the Na Mahoe at Nawiliwili Harbor

An original crew member aboard Hokulea, John Kruse is today the pillar of paddling Kaua’i. He’s currently at work on the Garden Isle’s own sailing canoe, Na Mahoe

That’s John Kruse, like the ‘kua’ of a canoe. An original crew member on Hokule’a, he is now building Na Mahoe, a sailing canoe for the people of Kaua’i

If you were to liken John Kruse to a part of one of the canoes he builds, he’d be the kua or “spine” – sturdy and true.

The pillar of Kaua’i's canoe-building ‘ohana, Kruse has a way of making nearly every sailing anecdote an adage.

A Hawaii treasure, Kruse, one of the sailors on Hokule’a's maiden passage to Tahiti, has spent much of his life sailing, and now continues to build sailing canoes as part of Kaua’i's wayfinding legacy. To him, voyaging means the world.

For Kruse, who lost wife Keani years ago to cancer and whose son Kepa lives on the Mainland, working on the canoe keeps him going.

“She was one powerful wahine,” Kruse says of his wife. “My son always asks me, ‘Are you going to find another woman?’And I say, ‘I did it once. I’ve got to keep focused on the canoe.’”

An undated photo of Keani, John and Kepa Kruse

Currently, – and for the past 15 or so years – “canoe” references Na Mahoe, the 72-foot double-hulled sailing canoe that Kruse, Marshall Mock, Dennis Chun and the late Dr. Patrick Aiu conceived so that Kaua’i and Ni’ihau would have a traditional voyaging canoe of their own.

Of course, “Hoku,” as they affectionately refer to the Hokule’a, has a history here on Kaua’i and has a standing Kaua’i crew, though the canoe’s home base is on Oahu.

“The Hokule’a was in all the Islands, but is kind of Oahu’s, and they’re really protective of the Hokule’a – rightly so,” Kruse says.

Kruse, who has been involved with the Polynesian Voyaging Society through its initial successes, tragic missteps and triumph through adversity to become the icon of Hawaiian culture it is today, is a founder of Na Kalai Wa’a o Kaua’i, the group building Na Mahoe.

It’s important to say group, Kruse says, as it’s not just one person who makes the success of building and caring for a sailing canoe possible.

Aiu conceived the name Na Mahoe, which translated means “the twins,” referring to the Gemini constellation that guided voyages between Kaua’i and Oahu.

Following the lead of the Big Island’s Clay Bertleman and Na Kalai Wa’a Moku o Hawai’i – the group that built that island’s voyaging canoe, Makali’i – once the name Na Mahoe was chosen, the Kaua’i daughter of Hokule’a was born.

And so in Hokule’a's wake follow four new voyaging canoes.

Since its initial voyage to Tahiti in 1976, Hokule’a and the art of wayfinding have been a touch-stone, a symbol of what Hawaiians and Polynesians could accomplish and a metaphor for the Hawaiian culture.

Thousands were excited to greet Hokule‘a in Tahiti; John Kruse is in there somewhere

Perhaps one of the most dense metaphors of the canoe to Hawaii is in the concept of ohana. The crew is family. The association of voyaging canoes is family. The canoe is one’s mother when one is voyaging, and caring for the canoe takes the whole ‘ohana.

“The desire to be with the canoe is pretty strong,” Kruse says. “It can bring people together and pull them apart, because you’re in the modern world but trying to look back into your past to find out what other people before you did. You’ve always got your ancestors behind you. Whatever you do or say, good or bad, they’re behind you – same like the canoe, an embodiment of those kine values from the old, the past.”

It’s to capture a glimpse of that incarnation that brought families out to watch those who were working on the Hokule’a back in the day, Kruse says.

“When we built the canoe, it touched everybody,” he says. “Families would come to watch us work and be staring at the canoe because, to them, it was the embodiment of what their elders told them.”

With the Hawaiian Renaissance came the birth of the Polynesian Voyaging Society in 1973, reconnecting local people with the wayfinding tradition mastered by Polynesians some 800 years ago.

Since Hokule’a's first voyage, which was navigated by master Micronesian navigator Mau Piailug, the art of wayfinding has become stronger in Hawaii. Before he passed away, Piailug initiated five of his Hawaii students into Pwo, a master navigator status, and the list of Hokule’a's crew now spans generations.

Kruse with a fresh catch aboard Hokule‘a

Piailug navigated the trek from Honolua to Tahiti just by watching and reading the stars, the rising and setting of the sun and the way the waves broke across the canoe.

It was in the darkness that Piailug would often sit, Kruse recalls, alluding to one particular instance when, without his knowledge, his son Kepa wandered off with Piailug.

Kepa was still small at the time, and Kruse had tied him to himself with a rope so that he wouldn’t wander off while they were asleep below deck. Kruse said he woke up only to find nothing attached to the other end of the rope.

“I found him. He was with Mau, happy, in the darkness,” he says.

Perhaps that anecdote exemplified the sheer trust and admiration Kruse and others felt for Piailug.

“I think that first crew that went to Tahiti, we were all like a wolf pack,” he says. “All wolves have the alpha wolf, and the alpha wolf was Mau. All the other wolves, we respected him for that. Here you had this guy showing what it was like for our ancestors in the past.”

After 31 days approaching the island of Mata’iwa until finally getting to Papeete in Tahiti on day 32, the land-starved crew was excited when clues began surfacing that they were getting close.

Kruse says before they could see land, Piailug pointed out where the seas went flat and the swells were backwashing from enveloping the island.

“You gotta be real good to know that,” Kruse says.

“The animals smelled the land, too, and the animals were going off,” he says. “Then we started to see rubbish in the water, and it was like ‘eh, rubbish!’”

Kruse in Papeete with the ki‘i from the rear of Hokule‘a

Mata’iwa residents knew the canoe was coming but didn’t expect it to land on their island, noting the arrival was a tad anticlimactic. However, the celebration once they landed in Papeete was anything but.

“When we finally got to the beach, it was crazy,” Kruse says. “That’s when so many people came on the canoe, it sank in four feet of water.”

It was an emotional landing, as the voyage had been. There was a lot at stake, including demonstrating that this kind of venture was even possible, that the Polynesians did in fact cross thousands of miles in voyaging canoes.

“This was the first time – in 1976 – this had been done for 800-plus years,” Kruse says. “The more we did it, well, the more we got confident.” That confidence came from the simple knowledge gained in terms of what necessitated a good crew.

“We had good fishermen, lots of water and a crew you have to trust in because your life is in their hands,” he says. “You’ve gotta be one.”

That fragility of life and the risk the Polynesians took time and time again were perhaps brought into glaring reality during that next voyage when Hokule’a capsized – when Eddie Aikau, who went in search of help on a surf-board, was lost at sea.

“I remember when we flipped over and were sitting there in the water in the evening,” Kruse says. “I thought, wow. My idea was we’re all going to get there together or we’re all going to die together. The main thing is, when you die, you’re with your family.”

After the canoe swamped, it was rebuilt and sailed in 1980 in honor of the Aikau family.

When Na Mahoe is completed, Kruse has another canoe in mind

Of course, the many trips that followed resulted in increased confidence among crewmembers – especially when being at sea necessitated improvisation, such as the time utensils were left on shore.

“I remember we had coconut and consequently forgot all the utensils,” Kruse says. “So we had to make coconut bowls to eat from.” The crew also made crude chopsticks. “It was realSurvivor show-kine stuff,” Kruse says. “And it was like, ‘Eh! Boogie (George) Kalama’s coconut stay bigger than mine! He’s getting more food!’”

Kruse says his years on the canoe were full of anecdotes like that, which is what made each voyage distinctive.

On one such trip in the ’90s, Nainoa Thompson’s classmate Lacy Veach, a NASA astronaut, was communicating with the Hokule’a via the Mars station, which relayed back to the canoe while he was orbiting Earth on the Space Shuttle Columbia.

“We were using the ancient way of sailing (130 miles at 5.5 knots) and they were going 18 miles above the earth at 13,000-15,000 miles an hour,”

Kruse says.

“Every 45 to 50 minutes, they would check the earth. We’d say, ‘Eh, do you see any clouds?’ And Veach was looking at the bottom of South America, and clouds were coming around South America into the Pacific.”

Beyond the initial voyage, Kruse – who says he’s been on Hokule’a too many times to count – sailed to Aotearoa (New Zealand) on the Ku Holo Mau voyage, which brought the newest voyaging canoe at the time, the Alingano Maisu, to Piailug in Satawal.

“One of the times we went to see Mau, and gifted him the (Alingano) Maisu, the new canoe, he reiterated in the pwo initiation ceremony that crews can disagree, but should always work together,” Kruse says.

Explaining the background of the pwo ceremony, Kruse adds that when they went to Satawal, Piailug’s native 1.5-mile-long, 1-mile-wide island, it was clear that navigating wasn’t about resurrecting culture, but how they feed their people and survive.

“They were all people within Mau’s influence, and it’s more than about non-instrument navigation,” he says. “He is the leader in the community, who goes out into the ocean to get food to feed the island, be it fish or teaching young people. All that is comprised in that ceremony of pwo because you are trusted to become an ongoing resource in your community. Being at sea is one part, but a leader and feeding your community is another part.”

Piailug told them how to lead so they could continue to do so on Kaua’i.

“If you’re supposed to be a pillar in the community, you set the example. So in our older age, we gotta do that,” says Kruse. “If he told me that 30 years ago, I’d say, ‘Ah, I’m not a kupuna, I’m just an older guy. I think you become an elder if you say you’re getting old, and then you shouldn’t be on the canoe.”

So what’s next for Kruse following the completion of Na Mahoe? Building another canoe, of course.

“I like build another canoe,” he says. “A 56-57-foot canoe.”

With the building of another canoe, just like those built in the past, it will serve as an educational tool.

“When you’re building the canoe, it teaches you life lessons – patience and a tolerance for tedium,” he says.

“As I’m building this new canoe in my older years, when you’re more community-oriented, I’m thinking all what Mau has taught me. Now I can teach Kepa and continue to teach young people who will be the beneficiary of what I’ve learned from Mau.”

Already those teachings are helping keep the tradition alive.

Come June, following the Ocean Noise conference in Honolulu, seven canoes will set sail to Kaua’i from different island nations: From Fiji, the Uto Ni Yalo; from Samoa and Tonga, the Hina Moana and Gaufalo; from the Cook Islands, the Maru Maru a Tua; from Tahiti, Fa-a Faiete; from New Zealand, the Matau Te Maui; and, as part of Piailug’s legacy, from Satawal, the Alingano Maisu, navigated by Piailug’s son, Sesario Piailug.

Quoting a Maori expression, Kruse says of the event and of wayfinding in general, “A te moana kupu takoha tangata hou manawa ora - and the sea will grant men new hope.”

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Hana hou, Na Mahoe: Artist Orr donates to paddlers

Amanda C. Gregg -

Amanda C. Gregg/Contributed photoLeonora Orr posing with one of her paintings, of which 50 percent of the proceeds will go toward helping fund Na Mahoe.

In 1978 the Hokule‘a set sail from Kualoa Beach on O‘ahu to “pull Tahiti out of the sea.”

On that voyage, the double-hulled sailing canoe pulled the wayfinding tradition out of Hawai‘i’s past and brought Hawai‘i’s greatest accomplishment back to her.

In her wake follows four new voyaging canoes, one to be completed on Kaua‘i: Na Mahoe.

Named by Dr. Patrick Aiu, “Na Mahoe,” meaning, “the twins,” references the constellation Gemini, which guided voyages between Kaua‘i and O‘ahu.

Voyaging canoes take a village to care for and Artist Leonora Orr joined that village with a fundraiser for Na Mahoe at Josselin’s Tapas Bar and Grill in Po‘ipu.

Orr agreed to donate 50 percent of the proceeds of her paintings to go to Na Kalai Wa‘a ‘O Kaua‘i (the canoe builders of Kaua‘i), the organization building Na Mahoe.

Jean Marie Josselin, owner of the Tapas Bar and Grill hosting the event, provided pupu including hamachi ceviche, chicken-liver pate and caprese.

Crewmembers of Na Mahoe were present, including Capt. Dennis Chun, Marshall Mock and Keith Taguma, all founding Na Kalai Wa‘a members.

“It’s been a long, hard road,” Chun said of Na Mahoe. “We cannot turn back. …We hope to get the canoe in the water in the next six months.”

Orr presented Chun with a ti-leaf lei to be given to Na Mahoe, and prints of her work to Noelani Josselin, who organized the event.

Orr found similarities in her art and Na Mahoe, noting, “When I look at the parallels of navigation and painting — it’s people having to deal with space. ... Painting is like walking in space.”

The founders and crewmembers of Kaua‘i’s first voyaging canoe, Na Mahoe, are aiming to complete her construction by early 2011.

News Archives

A life cut short — remembering ‘Sandy G’
Amanda C. Gregg – The Garden Island
Published: Saturday, May 16, 2009 2:08 AM HST
Editor’s note: Sandra Mendonca Galas was found murdered in ‘Ele‘ele on Jan. 26, 2006. Friday would have been her 31st birthday.

Tragic. Sobering. Egregiously unfair.
Few are the words that connote the tone necessary for what today means for the memory of Sandra Mendonca Galas. ...

click here for full story...

Feature writing | Travel pieces

Feature writing | Travel pieces

Journalism in the News