We catch up with legendary waterman Archie Kalepa in the next installment of our TEDxMaui 2013 Speaker Spotlight series. Recently inducted to the Hawai‘i Watermen’s Hall of Fame, fifth-generation Lahaina resident and Lahainaluna graduate Archie Kalepa is one of Hawai‘i’s greatest ocean sports pioneers.
What drives you to do the work you do?
I think what drives me to do what I do is several things: feeling really connected with the water, being able to help people, being able to share my experiences and my knowledge of the ocean. But most importantly, I think it’s the passion. It’s the passion of being in the water and loving everything about it and the ocean. That’s what really drives me.
Share one personal experience or relevant anecdote that informs your TEDx talk?
I think one of my personal experiences, is paddling down the Grand Canyon, for sure. Sometimes you’ve got to leave home to understand how much you appreciate what you have. And I think by going down the Grand Canyon and being in a whole different element, the relationship was with the water. In Hawai‘i for us, it’s the ocean and in the Grand Canyon, the Colorado River. It’s the river running, it’s the river water. And I think for me, this was probably one of the biggest life changing experiences I’ve had in realizing how important water is for our livelihood, and how important it is to take care of our resources. So I think that’s probably affected me the most.
How are you or your topic connected to Maui or Hawaiʻi?
My topic is connected for many reasons. It’s my roots, it’s where I come from, it’s who I am, and it’s part of the Hawaiian culture. I think one of the greatest gifts that Hawai‘i, or being Hawaiian has to offer, is its relationship or its intimacy with the ocean, from Duke Kahanamoku to Hōkūleʻa to Hawaiians as a people. They are very, very in tune and connected with their environment, but even more so the ocean environment.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
When things are second nature for you, you don’t realize what you have. And then as you get older, you start to understand what some of your strong points are as a human being. I think if I’d discovered this early on, I would’ve been able to share more of my strengths sooner versus later. It’s never too late, but I wish I would’ve realized this a lot earlier.
What advice would your younger self, give to the older you?
I think my younger self would tell me, “Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to make life-changing decisions. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box, and don’t be afraid to take journeys.”
What do the TED Talks mean to you?
TED Talks allow us to reach out to different places around the world, to people from different cultures, to people in different societies, to understand what people are talking about in different parts of the world. And I think ultimately, to express how much we are all connected.