World renowned astronomer donates two canoes to UH Hilo

University of Hawaiʻi
Posted: Feb 1, 2001

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo dedicated two new fiberglass racingcanoes at Hilo Bay with a traditional Hawaiian blessing. An $18,000 giftgiven to the University by astronomer Dr. Keiichi Kodaira and his wife Utafunded the canoes.

UH Hilo Chancellor Rose Tseng noted how the gift of the canoes bringsthe astronomy and UH Hilo communities closer together, as well as providingthe Canoe Club more opportunities for community outreach.

"I thank Keiichi and Uta Kodaira for their generosity," saidTseng. "Just seeing here today the good connections between the Hawaiianculture and the Japanese culture, where we can all learn together and collaboratetogether, I can see how very blessed we are with this gift of the canoes."

Following the presentation of a commemorative paddle from the Canoe Club,Dr. Kodaira explained his motivation for the gift.

"There is such a beautiful culture here," he said. "Iwanted to do something that would help bring about a deeper collaborationbetween the University and the people from Mauna Kea [astronomy community].

"I am fascinated with both the night sky and the magnificent ocean,"Kodaira further explained, "and I wanted to share that feeling [withthis gift]. My dream has been realized through the collaboration of manypeople, and I would like to thank our friends: the Canoe Club members andthe University administration."

Ikaika Dombrigues, kahuna nui pali tu, performed the traditional ceremony,assisted by 1999 UH Hilo graduate Roxan Stewart. Dombrigues blessed thetwo new canoes, Mele O Ke Kai (Song of the Ocean) and Makana Aloha (Giftof Aloha), as well as other UH Hilo canoes, the canoe house, paddles andeach member of the Canoe Club.

The gathering also included members of the UH Hilo faculty and staff,and several families from the Subaru telescope community.

Dr. Kodaira is the former director of the National Astronomical Observatoryof Japan (1994-2000) and was instrumental in the development of the SubaruTelescope observatory atop Mauna Kea.

Both avid sailors and paddlers, the Kodairas joined club members in thenew canoes and paddled into Hilo Bay to make traditional Hawaiian offeringsand scatter ti leis in the water.