The crews of Hokule'a and Hikianalia are enjoying a little R&R after a little more than two weeks at sea.
The canoes remained moored in waters off Rangiroa as the leadership decides when they will depart for Papeete. For one crew member the next stop is like a homecoming.
Maui Tauotaha has been busy on the first leg of this voyage around the world as a Hikianalia crew member, videographer and editor for 'OIWI TV. His connection with Hokule'a began well before he was even born.
"When Hokule'a first went to Tahiti in 1976, Tautira – where my family grew up and where Hokule'a has been – became home of Hokule'a in 1976 and our 'ohana wa'a have been close ever since," said Maui.
Amid the celebrations honoring Hokule'a's arrival in Tahiti, Maui's mother – a hui nalu canoe paddler from Oahu – met his father – a maire nui canoe paddler – from Tahiti. Maui was born several years later. He's a true child of the canoe.
"Uncle Nainoa said I was born for this job. Malama Hawaii began for me back in the late 1970s in Tahiti. It's a beautiful thing today that I get to reconnect with the vaa on this very special voyage," said Maui. "For myself, my family is proud that I'm following the footsteps of my ancestors – my grandpa. Especially for Tautira and Tahiti, I feel him out here when I'm out on the vaa."
Maui's grandfather Puaniho Tauotaha was a canoe paddler and canoe builder who sailed from Tahiti to Oahu on Hokulea in the 1985 voyage of rediscovery.
Maui wasn't able to spend much time with his grandfather, so in many ways this is Maui's voyage of rediscovery.
"It's almost surreal being out here on these vaa meeting the people who sailed with my grandfather who know my family in Tautira back in the 1970s. It's truly an amazing experience and I'm grateful. Honestly, I still think I'm in shock," said Maui.
Right now the canoes are moored in waters off Rangiroa following a welcoming ceremony honoring their travels. They will soon leave for Papeete and Maui is looking forward to the arrival there and seeing his 'ohana from Tautira.
"I've only been to Tautira a few times, but the few times I've been there – to me it is the most beautiful place in this Earth," said Maui. "It's where my family comes from. I feel a deep connection to this place the few times I've gone there. I'm so excited to be able to go there."
"This time the wa'a back to the homeland to see my family – represent my family – and it's an amazing feeling," said Maui.