Kawaihae, Hawaii – Video by David Corrigan
It felt like a family reunion between distant relatives on Ohai’ula, also known as Spencer Beach, as Hawaii Island welcomed dignitaries from Tahiti and a new submarine cable linking the two countries on Monday.
The 3,107 miles of undersea fiber optic cable, the first of its kind to connect the United states and French Polynesia, will allow Tahiti to access high speed internet. Officials hope it will dramatically improve communication services throughout all the islands of French Polynesia, (Bora Bora, Raiatea, Huahine, Moorea and Tahiti) allowing more affordable international broadband internet connectivity.
The cable has been named Honotua. “Hono translates to ‘link’ and Tua translates to ‘backbone, horizon at sea,’” says Francois Voirin, Chairman of the Board of Office des postes et telecommunications, in a media release. “Hawaiians and Tahitians have established links through voyaging canoes long before European explorers. Today, Honotua reestablishes this connection positioning both countries for improved communication technology entirely relevant for the information age.”
Tahiti and Hawaii share a legendary common ancestry. Although the celebration’s welcoming ceremony had an international feel, there was an underlying sense that long lost families were reconnecting; a connection that is deeper than the 19,500 feet deep Honotua cable.
Edouard Fritch, vice president of the government of French Polynesia, Maui’s State Senator Kalani English, and Mayor Billy Kenoi were among the dignataries in attendance. Kenoi was presented a buoy, named Kealakahiki (Hawaiian for “the way to Tahiti”) that symbolized the end of the cable project.
The Honotua project began 5 years ago. Cable laying started November 24, 2009 on the island of Bora Bora for the domestic link. The international link started on December 19, 2009. Over $108 million has been invested in the project.