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Strengthening Hawai‘i’s Communities
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Hui O Mana Ka Pu‘uwai

Power from the Heart

Hui O Mana Ka Pu‘uwaiIn regatta races, the entire club cheers on their teammates, as well as the teams of other clubs.
Here, Puuwai Nā ‘Ōpio paddlers high-five in a pre-race cheer.

Photo courtesy of Hui O Mana Ka Pu‘uwai

Dana Miyake knows what a difference paddling can make. When she moved from O‘ahu to Oakland, California as a child, her family formed an outrigger canoe club with other Hawai‘i-connected families. Paddling gave them a way to connect with their culture—and stay out of trouble. “It saved us,” says Miyake.

Miyake met her husband, Keone, at the club in Oakland, and in 2007 they moved to Kaua‘i, where Keone spent his childhood. The club they now paddle with and coach, Hui O Mana Ka Pu‘uwai, has become a place where anyone who is willing to try hard can belong. The nonprofit serves the Kaua‘i community, with four programs for keiki and youth, and men’s and women’s competitive and recreational groups.

In an average year, Pu‘uwai serves 210 keiki and 150 adults. Members practice up to five days a week, with races on weekends. But Pu‘uwai’s work doesn’t stop with paddling. In Hawaiian, Hui O Mana Ka Pu‘uwai means “power from the heart,” and they use that power for good.

Keiki and youth paddlers learn everything from good nutrition, to Hawaiian values such as lokahi (teamwork), kuleana (responsibility), alaka‘i (leadership), and pono (integrity).

Pu‘uwai members have been raising funds for the Kaua‘i Independent Food bank for more than 5 years, delivering more than 39,000 pounds of food and supplies to those in need, since the pandemic began. They have also raised money to assist with housing payments, and partnered with the Kapa‘a Rotary Club to update community basketball equipment.

Taking a whole-community and whole-cultural approach is central to Pu‘uwai’s work, says the club’s president, Blake Conant. “It’s not just about naming the parts of the canoe, but about why you’re doing what you’re doing, and that’s important to how you guide your life.”

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