When I was eleven, I stood on a stretch of beach, my ankles surrounded by ocean, my toes digging into sand. I had traveled away from one homeland, Hawaiʻi, to face an ancestral one named Kahiki. I stared out into the lagoon as double-hulled sailing canoes from around Polynesia each made their way through a break in the reef, arriving at Taputapuātea, a marae on Raʻiātea, Tahiti. As each canoe neared the shore, voices rang out, welcoming them. I greeted people from around the Pacific, people who looked like me, who shared certain customs, yet who were distinct. And I knew that we were connected. I knew that we shared a history.
Now nineteen years later and this initial journey to Kahiki—a term often used to refer to any land outside of Hawaiʻi—continues to inspire me. It has pushed me to explore the Pacific through story, to track and travel over ancient pathways, pathways famed in migration tales, celebrated in song, recounted in speeches, and recorded in old texts. And it has pushed me to write my own stories, to continue the work of my ancestors who sang, danced, chanted, and eventually wrote their way into existence. These are my stories. These are our stories.
E pū paʻakai kākou! Let us partake of salt together, taking a bit of the ocean that spans the Pacific and allowing it to nourish us.