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

    Multimedia Obama Calls on Americans to Help the Families of Its War Dead

    In last Memorial Day of his presidency, Obama lays wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora