In an event heralding the first morning of the World Conservation Congress, a double-hulled canoe arrived Thursday on Waikiki Beach and was greeted by men in malo — traditional Hawaiian warrior garb — who threw a spear and presented a welcoming gift of a coconut plant.
The canoe was pushed ashore. Due to strong winds from Tropical Storm Madeline, only one vessel sailed in.
Welcoming gifts from Pacific Island leaders filled a circle in the sand in a ceremony watched by people who then moved on to the Neal S. Blaisdell Center for a continuation of opening-day events.
Inside the arena, some of the 9,100-plus registered attendees gathered for the International Union for Conservation of Nature opening ceremonies.
World Conservation Congress delegates with front-row seats relaxed before the ceremonies began.
Kamana‘opono Crabbe served as master of ceremonies. He is the chief executive officer of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
Crabbe asked audience members to greet the people sitting next to them, and plenty of hugs were shared.
Hula performers provided entertainment. The World Conservation Congress has never before been held in the United States.
The efforts to bring the World Conservation Congress to Hawaii began eight years ago.
Created in 1948, the International Union for Conservation of Nature is one of the most well-respected environmental organizations in the world.
Members of the Chinese Youth Delegation displayed a banner at the opening ceremonies. The event later shifted to the Hawaii Convention Center, where it will continue through Sept. 10.
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