Thief returns precious koa wood to well known Hawaiian canoe crafter

Bobby Puakea
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Bobby Puakea
Bobby Puakea

KANEOHE – A well-known native Hawaiian koa wood canoe builder who had to halt work on a koa canoe after his koa wood supply was stolen, had the wood returned by the thief.

Bobby Puakea, who heads the Puakea Foundation in Kaneohe, makes koa canoes for several canoe clubs throughout the state.


Last Thursday, all the rare koa wood he had prepared for a canoe he was crafting for the Honolulu Pearls canoe club, was stolen from his workshop in Heeia State Park. The wood pieces were about 4 feet long.

The canoe was being built to replace another koa canoe that the club lost in Nanakuli when it crash landed on the beach at the conclusion of a race and shattered.

The media published stories on the theft and many canoe paddlers helped get the word out through social media.

Bobby son, John Puakea, a well known paddler and outrigger canoe designer and manufacturer, said the family is happy the wood was returned so his dad can finish the canoe.

Who stole the wood may still be a mystery. The person who returned the wood didn’t identify himself.

“My dad got an anonymous call today. He went back to the park and the wood was back in the canoe where he left it,” John Puakea said.

The family is thanking the media and the public for their assistance.





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