[Newsletter] May 2024

(May 30, 2024)

We first learned this while sailing on the Haunui voyaging canoe with Hotu. Aleena, who is from the U.S. living in Aotearoa, shared with Hotu the challenges of being separated by an ocean from family and community. Hotu had a different perspective. He shared:

He talked about how the peoples of the Pacific have traversed the ocean for millennia, much like her people have across the land. Nowhere is this truer than in our work across the Pacific. Let us explain. Red Star’s work spans three focus areas:

  1. Health Systems Transformation
  2. Restoring Balance (for the Wellbeing of Humanity and the Environment)
  3. Canoe Traditions

Deconstructing the systems and practices that reinforce colonialism begins with value realignment. We seek to realign current systems with Indigenous values and worldview. This approach honors the significance of lived experience and the interconnection between our personal well-being to that of our ancestral lands (and islands!) and waters.  

Here’s what that looks like in practice….

Our health systems transformation work aims to uplift local capacity to promote wellness using a community-centered approach. We recently visited the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to facilitate a community stakeholder meeting with the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation (CHCC) and its partners to identify health priorities. It has been an honor to be a partner in an ongoing effort to improve wellness across the CNMI.

The CHCC Division of Public Health Programs’ mission is to, in partnership with the community, provide quality services to promote and improve the health and well-being for the people of the CNMI.

While in the CNMI, we were grateful for the opportunity to visit 500 Sails, a non-profit organization with a mission to revive, promote, and preserve the Mariana Islands’ maritime cultural traditions. Their dedication to building traditional canoes and teach sailing skills with the community was inspiring!

We’ll see 500 Sails at the Festival of Pacific Arts in June!

In February 2024, we traveled to Oahu, Hawai’i alongside the Matangireia Waka Trust (from Aotearoa/New Zealand) to the 2024 Wahi Kupuna Stewardship Summit. Hosted by the Kali‘uokapa‘akai Collective and Huliauapa’a, its backbone organization, the summit’s purpose was to strengthen relationships and articulate the principles, ethics, and standards that guide stewardship practices of our ancestral places. More than 100 people joined from across Hawai’i, Turtle Island and Aotearoa.

We are grateful to the leaders from the Collective and Huliauapa’a, who shared their work with all of us at A Meeting of Sacred Waters at Isleta Pueblo in New Mexico in March 2024.

While sailing outrigger canoes is a long-held tradition across Polynesia; its revival in Aotearoa (New Zealand) is recent. Through the work of Rehua Innovations (a Red Star affiliate) led by Canoe Captain Frank Kawe, we are contributing to the revitalization and preservation of mātangirua – the practice of sailing outrigger canoes.

This year we exchanged knowledge on canoe building and sailing practices in Hawai’I and Aotearoa with our relatives, Nakoa Prejean and Kainalu Bertalman at Hawaiian Ocean Adventures. They continue to be tremendous supporters of our efforts to revive this tradition to Aotearoa.  Mahalo nui loa!

In October 2023, we visited Teiva Véronique-Gatata, who operates a traditional sailing school just outside of Papeete. We were inspired by their master class to grow experienced sailers. Safety and skill are paramount when sailing on the open ocean.

Learn more about mātangirua by following Rehua Innovations on their new Facebook page!

Frank Kawe, Canoe Captain and principal of Rehua Innovations is heading to Oahu, Hawai’i for the Festival of Pacific Arts as one of an 85-member delegation of Māori artists and practitioners from Aotearoa/New Zealand.  Traditional canoe practices play a significant role in the festival, led by Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr.

We acknowledge Te Toki Voyaging Trust and Creative New Zealand for their support and coordination.

Growing community is like growing corn – it requires nurturing, cultivation, and abundant sharing for all to benefit. A gift to Red Star International helps us strengthen programs, develop resources and grow our global Indigenous community for healthy and vibrant communities.

While grants and contracts fund specific projects, it’s generous donors like you that play a vital role in making this work happen!