Ka Mamalahoe Canoe Club, founded in 2002 by Russell Swaney, Scott Thompson and Kenny Puaa, began with 120 paddlers. Since then the club has streamlined and now has 60 paddlers with co-owners Russell Swaney as President and Scott Thompson as Vice President and Head Coach. Long time paddler Mike Normand was the only other head coach with Ka Mamalahoe in our seven year history.
When forming the club, they sought out a Kahu for guidance and she said she would pray on it. A few days later she called and said to meet her as soon as possible. Kahu told them that she had a vision in which a Hawaiian warrior appeared with his hand raised. She knew immediately that it was Kamehameha as he was the only one that would wear a cloak in the royal colors of red and yellow. She asked the warrior for a name for the “boys’” new club. His response was for the club to be named KA MAMALAHOE. As he turned to depart she saw that the upraised hand was now a splintered paddle. (As you all know, Ka Mamalahoe is Kamehameha’s first written law – written after his encounter with fishermen whom he attacked but, when he got his foot stuck in the rocks, one of the fishermen attacked him with a paddle. The paddle splintered which spared Kamehameha’s life. Later, Kamehameha declared all the people throughout Hawaii would be protected by the King from the ali’i’s right to attack enacting Ali’i Kanawai Mamalahoe – Kings Law of the Splintered Paddle.)
The “boys” pondered for a bit – their first reaction was to run away. The responsibilities to live up to that name were overwhelming although it was in line with their goals. While they continued to think about it, Kahu told them another story which sealed their decision. She said Kamehameha had appeared to her only once before when she prayed for help with naming her yet unborn child. When he appeared he told her to use the name of the king of Oa’hu but she refused and argued at length with him. In frustration, Kamehameha threw a mo’o at her (her one big fear) and left saying that if something happened to that child she needed only to call out that name of the king of O’ahu. When she finally delivered her baby at home, the little girl was not breathing. Kahu ran with the child to the fire station next door and all the efforts could not revive the baby. Kahu then cried out the name of the king of O’ahu and the baby started crying.
The name Ka Mamalahoe was accepted and we live and guide ourselves by the principles implied by the name. The principles of ohana (family) and lokomaika’i (sharing) while perpetuating the Hawaiian culture can be witnessed at every practice session and race. Additionally, through our newly formed Ka Mamalahoe Foundation and generous grants, the club continues lokomaika’i by providing CPR and AED certifications free of charge to all paddlers statewide.
As a lawmaker, Kamehameha has been credited for making laws that protected the common people. As a young warrior chief he and his men were paddling their war canoe near shore seeking a place a place to rest. They happened upon a group of co1mmoners fishing the shoreline of Ke‘eau in Puna, Hawai‘i (one fisherman with a child on his back) and he was nearly killed for attacking the fishermen The account is related as follows: “...Kamehameha leaped from his canoe intending to catch and kill the men, but they al escaped with the women except two men who stayed to protect the man with the child. During the struggle Kamehameha caught his foot in crevice of the rock and was stuck fast; and the fishermen beat him over the head with a paddle. Had it not been that one of the men was hampered with struggling, Kamehameha would have been killed that day, This quarrel was named Kaleleiki, and from from the striking of Kamehameha‘s head with paddle came the Law of the Broken (Splintered) Paddle... (Ruling Chiefs. S.M. Kamakau) Kamehameha, dazed and foot entrapped in the lava crevice, miraculously survived the fisherman‘s shattering paddle blow to his head. Years later, as ruler of all Hawai‘i, he was inspired by the experience and declared that commoners would be protected from such treatment by chiefs and this law came to be known as Māmalahoe, Law of the Splintered Paddle. To this day the Māmalahoe governs the people of Hawai‘i from it‘s inclusion in the Constitution of the State of Hawai‘i, Article IX, Section 10.