By: Rob Veale
I paddled out, reached the sand bar, and stopped for several minutes and thought about the ancient Hawaiians and how they were able to cross thousands of miles to find their home in the middle of the Pacific. In my metaphorical estuary, I was content with just being in the sea with my board, while pondering how these ancients created the very thing that so many love. This segment is dedicated to learning how to paddle. manahalo means to swim with paddle like motions as you would to swim with or without a board.
It is no great secret that the Ancient Hawaiians were excellent watermen. It is not exactly certain when these Ancient Polynesians came to Hawaii or exactly where from. Archeological and anthropological evidence suggests that the majority of these ancient explorers came from the Marquesas Islands. They landed on the big island of Hawaii, some 1500 years ago. Some 500 hundred years later, explorers came from Tahiti, landed on the island of Maui, and made their claim. They traveled over 2,000 miles on the moana pakipika (Pacific Ocean) in large wa’akaulua. These double hulled canoes carried up to 100 of these ancient seafaring people. They utilized rudimentary and superb navigational techniques to travel such distances on moana. They used the Sun and the stars, as did most ancients, but they also employed flight patterns of birds, as well as cloud patterns to navigate their nautical endeavors.
As the culture evolved, there would be many land fueds, but the central focus of the ancients, would be focused within the sea. It was the fastest way to travel, island to island, tribe to tribe. At one point, your village was considered to be lucky to have a successful fisherman. Blessed with a successful fisherman, the community could thrive economically as food provided by the sea was a staple in Hawaiian life.
After centuries of moana influencing Hawaiian culture, it’s no surprise that Hawaii has produced some of the best swimmers. Duke Kahanamoku comes to mind. Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku was originally a Waikiki beach boy who rebelled and taught the “haole” how to surf. He is also known as the father of modern day surfing and credited with its international appeal. There is a statue of him in Australia commemorating his contributions to Australian surf culture. He was a multiple gold medalist at the Olympic Games and was an overall great guy with simplistic pleasures. He also coined the phrase, “the best surfer is the one having the most fun!”
If you want to surf, you will have to know how to paddle out. manahalo on a board is not very easy when first starting out, so I would suggest that you practice on your board in the white water. Balancing your body in the center of the board is key to paddling. If you don’t know the etiquette, or in Hawaiian, kapu, you will endanger yourself, and those around you in the line up. Below, is the best video of manahalo that I could find. Thanks Surf coaches!