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

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More