Pwo navigator Kālepa Baybayan was an integral partner in Maunakea Scholars, pictured here teaching navigational principles to the program’s Molokai cohort. 


The Maunakea Observatories are deeply saddened by the news of Kālepa Baybayan’s death and offer our deepest sympathy to his ‘ohana. Pwo navigator, incomparable educator, mentor and friend, Kālepa inspired us to learn with open hearts and to continue to grow always.

Kālepa possessed incredible strength, a fortitude hardened by decades of leadership and continued exploration. He used that strength to uplift those he cared for, to perpetuate precious knowledge entrusted to him, to weather countless storms and to hold an open space for continued learning, growth and innovation. He sailed countless miles on board Hōkūleʻa, trained countless hours as a navigator, and was a relentlessly passionate teacher taking on the kuleana to pass on thousands of years of knowledge to those willing to learn.

Kālepa stood at an uncommon intersection where different ways of understanding can meet and flourish. For anyone with the humility and curiosity to come to him at that intersection, no matter what knowledge system they started from, they had the opportunity to learn and grow. These lessons we learned from Kālepa will continue to shape our approach to inquiry and education of all kinds, but more importantly, the way we must stand to support each other as neighbors, friends, and family here in our island community.