During the 70’s as Kihei was growing, there was a local man named Moki Kalanikau that helped influence the local community by starting an after school activity for the kids that eventually turned into something much greater.
Moki’s kids were always bringing home friends. These kids they brought home lacked direction in their lives and Moki would often take them in and give them needed direction, becoming the father figure that many of them were lacking.
He saw his own kids spending their days at the beach and he decided to try and do something for all the local kids in the north Kihei neighborhood. With his own son (who is now almost 50), his son’s best friend, and a couple nephews, they went down and learned how to paddle a canoe.
Modern day Kihei Canoe Club
Moki had the idea that he should form his own canoe club for the Kihei area for his kids and all others who wanted to come, so it would give them something to do when they weren’t in school. With that, the Kihei Canoe Club was born. They paddled year-round and continued to grow in popularity and numbers. The club helped shape many youths lives in the Kihei area.
There are now many canoe clubs all over Maui with huge numbers of people from middle schoolers all the way up to seniors. Their influence on these kids and adults has been amazing throughout the years. You will hear many people talk about what they have learned from the clubs. They learned hard work, dedication, team work, dependability, culture, and made friends for life.
Maui Canoe Racing
My son and wife getting ready to launch the first canoe
This past Saturday, the canoe club held an event that included clubs from all over Maui and it was a huge success. There were 4 generations there representing the Moki Kalanikau family.
Launching the first canoe
The first canoe in the water was for the opening ceremony, which included a prayer and the spreading of flowers to bless the day’s races. They had 3 dolphins for an escort.
Interested in Getting Involved?
If you have ever wanted to get involved with paddling, just go down to the closest local club to you and inquire – they are always looking for people to join. All the high schools even have their own clubs now that meet each day after school to practice and learn the art of paddling.
Each club has their own tent with all the paddles, food, and water for the teams; it is an all day event
Sadly, Moki Kalanikau passed away in 1986 at an early age, but his legacy lives on. His canoe club has continued to grow every year and they hold this Regatta every summer in his honor. I am proud to have met and got to know Moki before he died, and I’m also very proud to call him my father-in-law.