‘Family of the Wa‘a:’ a not-to-be missed film at the BIFF

Thursday, May 24th, 2012
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North Hawaii News

The Big Island Film Festival will wrap up its Sunday showings with a not-to-be-missed film called “The Family of the Wa’a.”

The story is about a dream of Kimokeo Kapahulehua to paddle an outrigger canoe to each of the Hawaiian islands, linking them together like a lei. The group started on the Island of Hawaii and ended at Kure Atoll, the northern point of the northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The voyage took six years, crossing 1,650 miles of open ocean using an outrigger canoe, or wa’a.

Christof Luedi, regional vice president and general manager of the Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii, was part of that vision. He was one of three people to complete every part of the voyage, from beginning to end.

According to Luedi, the story is not just about paddling – it is about honoring the Hawaiian culture, following a dream with perseverance and having loyalty to family, or ohana.

“It is a good movie and I think what is important for people to know is that it is not just a movie about paddling, but about the spirit of aloha and how it gets perpetuated,” Luedi said.

Luedi said their initial dream was to spiritually and culturally connect the two Fairmont properties in Maui and the Big Island, by paddling from one to the other in 2003. The dream expanded to connecting all the islands.

“Over the years we paddled, we learned a lot of the geography and the geology of the area,” Luedi said.

The film follows the final leg of the journey, in July 2008. The effort was grueling, with the crew paddling in one hour on, one hour off increments for 83 hours – about three and a half days.

Luedi said that fulfilling the dream was costly and time-consuming, but in the end it proved worth it.

“Being out there on the open ocean, the biggest lesson that many of us learned is how insignificant mankind is,” Luedi said. “When you are bobbing along in 30-foot swells, you are just going along for the ride.”

Luedi said that the initial dream quickly grew into a voyage that celebrated ohana and the Hawaiian culture.

“The biggest lesson is if you really believe in something, stand by it 100 percent,” Luedi said “Take leadership, set the goal, be persistent and lead it to the end.”

The film is one hour, twenty minutes and is showing at 9:30 p.m. on May 27 at the Fairmont Orchid, Plantation Estate.

The Big Island Film Festival is from May 24 to May 28. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 883-0394 or go to bigislandfilmfestival.com.

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