News / USA

Hawaiian Voyaging Canoe to Navigate World Without Instruments

The Höküle‘a is about to set sail on an around-the-world journey to spread a conservation message. (Courtesy: Polynesian Voyaging Society/Oiwi-TV)
The Höküle‘a is about to set sail on an around-the-world journey to spread a conservation message. (Courtesy: Polynesian Voyaging Society/Oiwi-TV)
Heidi Chang
A Hawaiian voyaging canoe is set to sail around the world using the age-old art of wayfinding  navigating without instruments as part of a global movement to help create a more sustainable world.

Polynesian voyaging rediscovered

When the Hawaiian voyaging canoe known as Höküle‘a first sailed from Hawaii to Tahiti in 1976, no one imagined it would spark a revival of Polynesian voyaging throughout the Pacific and become an important symbol of cultural pride.  

"Our primary motivation in building and sailing and navigating canoes was to have Hawaiians and other Polynesians, and other Pacific Islanders, take over the leadership in relearning, reinventing the technology, and putting it to use, and demonstrating its use, so it becomes their project, not my project," said Ben Finney, founding president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, which built the canoe.
 
Hawaiian Voyaging Canoe to Navigate World Without Instruments
Hawaiian Voyaging Canoe to Navigate World Without Instrumentsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

Now 82, the retired anthropologist says they initially wanted to demonstrate it was possible for Polynesians to have intentionally explored and settled the Pacific. Finney recalls they also wanted to revive the art of wayfinding, navigating without instruments, guided only by the stars, winds, waves, birds and other signs of nature.

The tradition had been lost in Polynesia. Fortunately, the society found an expert navigator in Micronesia, and under his guidance, Nainoa Thompson became the first Hawaiian in 600 years to practice the art of wayfinding. Thompson also integrated the tradition with modern science. Since then, he’s helped train a whole new generation of navigators.

Circumnavigating the globe

Now, after nearly 40 years of sailing Höküle‘a around the Pacific and the Pacific Rim, Thompson is about to embark on a worldwide voyage called Malama Honua, Caring for our Earth. He says several people inspired the vision for the voyage, including his friend, the late NASA astronaut Lacy Veach.
 
  • Master navigator Nainoa Thompson became the first Hawaiian in 600 years to practice the art of wayfinding (date unknown). (Polynesian Voyaging Society)
  • Half the crew of the Hokulea is under the age of 30 (date unknown). (Oiwi TV and the Polynesian Voyaging Society)
  • The Hokulea (left) and the Hikianalia sailing off the Hawaiian Islands (date unknown). (Oiwi TV and the Polynesian Voyaging Society)
  • Master navigators Chad Kalepa Baybayan (left) and Nainoa Thompson (date unknown). (Chad Kalepa Baybayan)
  • The Hokulea is a a Polynesian double-hulled voyaging canoe (date unknown). (Oiwi TV and the Polynesian Voyaging Society)
  • The Hokulea at sea (date unknown). (Oiwi TV and the Polynesian Voyaging Society)

"He kept saying, 'Nainoa, you need to know how beautiful your island Earth is,'" Thompson said. "'It’s just one island in space. It’s all we've got. There’s no other island we can go to. And it’s fragile, and it needs to be protected, and Höküle‘a needs to help us learn and find the way. Take it around the world.' That was 22 years ago.”

To prepare for the expedition, Thompson and his crew spent a year sailing around the Hawaiian islands with Hokulea, which means Star of Gladness, and a new canoe, Hikianalia. Both are named after stars that navigators use to guide them back to Hawaii. The double-hulled canoes will circumnavigate the globe together.

The voyagers will visit more than 20 countries, learning from other cultures, including the Zulu of South Africa.

"Imagine that we’re going to go to South Africa," Thompson said. "Imagine that we’re going to have the chance to meet the Zulu that are about 140- to about 180,000 years old, and to celebrate the fact that they’re still here on this planet, maybe one of the oldest cultures. So it’s our privilege to be the youngest culture and have the ability to explore and go and meet and pay respects to all the cultures of the earth."

Inspiring a new generation

One goal of the worldwide voyage is to inspire young people and strengthen a new generation of navigators and voyagers.

That’s why half the crew is under the age of 30. Thompson, who’s now in his 60s, hopes many people will follow the voyage online and participate in its educational journey.

“If you don’t teach children how to take care of the world, they won’t have the tools to do that," Thompson said. "We’re not going to go save the world. All we’re trying to do with Höküle‘a and Hikianalia is do our part. And our part is to sail. And so we want to join that human movement of kindness and compassion on the planet with the belief that collectively we can make a difference.”

Once the canoes leave Hawaii with the first good wind, they won’t return until 2017.

Nainoa Thompson will captain and navigate Höküle‘a on the first leg of the voyage to Tahiti, sharing a message of Aloha and Malama Honua caring for our Earth.

You May Like

US, Brazil's Climate-Change Plan: More Renewables, Less Deforestation

Officials say joint initiative on climate change will allow Brazil, United States to strengthen and accelerate cooperation on issues ranging from land use to clean energy More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

After Nearly a Century, Voodoo Opera Rises Again

Opera centers on character named Lolo, a Louisiana plantation worker and Voodoo priestess More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishui
X
Abdulaziz Billow
June 30, 2015 2:16 PM
Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs