PVS Crew Participate in Ocean Protection Summit and Sign Joint Oceans Declaration with French Polynesia

In addition to cultural protocol, crew training and canoe preparations, the crews of Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia participated in ocean conservation events during the Blue Climate Summit while in Tahiti last week. Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) president Nainoa Thompson and crew leadership also joined French Polynesia President Edouard Fritch this afternoon for the signing of a Joint Declaration For The Oceans at the President’s Palace in Papeete.

In the joint-declaration, PVS and the government of French Polynesia committed to elevating the voices of island people and Polynesia, making an urgent call for the sustainable management and protection of the oceans, and advancing the importance of culture and ancestral knowledge to educate and empower future generations to become responsible navigators for a healthy, thriving Island Earth. Last week’s Blue Climate Summit was held to accelerate ocean-related solutions to climate change and provide Pacific Islanders an international forum to spearhead action on ocean and climate issues. Co-hosted by the Government of French Polynesia, the event gathered more than 200 scientists, innovators, policymakers, community leaders, and environmental and youth activists.

The Summit commenced in Papeete at the Presidential Palace on Sunday, May 15, with a welcome address from President Fritch followed by remarks by Thompson and other governmental and environmental leaders including Cook Island Prime Minister Mark Brown and Oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle.

Thompson and crew members participated in conversations with ocean advocates and youth ambassadors to discuss how they could work together to advance island values and ancestral knowledge to educate and empower the next generation to become responsible stewards of the oceans and the earth.

On Wednesday, May 18, participants of the Blue Climate Summit bore witness to a ceremony at the sacred navigation marae of Taputapuātea where Pwo navigators Thompson and Jack Thatcher of Aotearoa (New Zealand) spoke about the Moananuiakea Voyage and their commitment as voyagers to be a voice for the protection of the oceans.

Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia have been in Tahiti for more than two weeks since arriving in Papeete to a celebratory welcome on Saturday, May 7, 2022. The canoes are scheduled to begin the voyage back to Hawaiʻi tomorrow morning and are expected to reach Hilo by mid-June.

To follow the journey to Tahiti, please visit the voyaging dashboard at www.WaaHonua.com.

Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia Arrive in Tahiti

Hawaiʻi’s voyaging canoes Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia sailed into Papeete, Tahiti and received a large royal welcome from the Tahitian community, including French Polynesia President Édouard Fritch and other dignitaries. Once the canoes were moored at Hōkūleʻa beach, the crew were greeted with a traditional cultural ceremony followed by speeches and tributes honoring the crew for their successful voyage from Hawaiʻi to Tahiti.

The afternoon celebration commemorated the special relationship between Hōkūleʻa and Tahiti that began with the canoe’s maiden voyage to French Polynesia 46 years ago. It also marked the important precursor to the upcoming Moananuiākea Voyage, a circumnavigation of the Pacific Ocean that launches in the spring of 2023.

“We are about to embark on the largest voyage ever done, Moananuiākea, which will focus on bringing together the Pacific islands for the oceans,” said Polynesian Voyaging Society CEO Nainoa Thompson. “I can’t think of a better place to start this voyage than in this place of our ancestors where the relationship to nature, oceans and culture is so strong,” he added.

With the arrival of Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia, “we are reviving the spirit of unity of the Polynesian peoples,” declared President Fritch.

Following the stop in Papeete, the canoes will sail to the ancient voyaging marae of Taputapuatea in Raiatea to follow ancient cultural protocol and ask permission to launch the Moananuiākea Voyage. Thompson and fellow Pwo Navigator Bruce Blankenfeld will also participate in the Blue Climate Summit, May 14-20, an event focused on accelerating ocean-related solutions to climate change.

Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia are expected to depart Tahiti on May 20, 2022, and return to Hawaiʻi in mid-June.

To follow the journey to Tahiti, please visit the voyaging dashboard at www.WaaHonua.com.

Canoes cross the Equator marking the halfway point of the voyage

After a cool evening of sailing through the end of the doldrums region and studying the latitude stars, the crews of Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia woke up early to conduct a traditional cultural ceremony as they crossed Ka Piko o Wākea, also known as the Equator. This point marks the halfway point of the Kealaikahiki Voyage, which launched 10 days ago from Hilo.

Hōkūleʻa Navigator Lehua Kamalu estimates that they are 1,245 miles along their journey and about 130 miles to the west of their intended course due to the winds and currents. According to Kamalu, this is the final section of the voyage where they are setting up for a tack into the Tuamotu Archipelago and onward to Tahiti.

The crews stopped the canoes to observe this special place called Ka Piko o Wākea (the Equator), a transition point that takes the crew from the northern hemisphere to the southern hemisphere. It’s an important place for voyagers to offer gifts of cultural remembrance to the voyagers, navigators and ancestors who sailed Kealaikahiki before them.

To follow the journey to Tahiti, please visit the voyaging dashboard at www.WaaHonua.com.

Finding Home and Learning to Listen on Kealaikahiki

In the dark early morning hours of Day 5 on our Kealaikahiki voyage, Lehua quietly walked around the waʻa, waking up our crew one by one. Our mizzen (back) sail had suddenly ripped near the top tricing line and needed to be changed, slowing our speed and taking our course downwind until we could get it replaced. Everyone moved swiftly around with red headlamps in the dark as Lehua confidently directed the sail change, maintaining calm though urgent pace. We carefully lowered the 40 foot spar holding the sail down to the deck; Lehua walked along the spar leading the crew in removing sail ties, and in a moment, we had removed the torn sail and were securing the replacement sail. 

As dawn began to color the sky and small squalls passed over us with light rains and gusts, we tied the sail tight to the spar and raised it again. We also took the opportunity of our slower speed to make a few adjustments on our main sail and head sail, always trying to increase efficiency. By the time the sun spilled over the clouds, Hōkūleʻa was running with full sails in her previous direction of Manu Malanai (southeast) at a pace of 7 knots. Looking to the back of the waʻa where Lehua was standing, a brilliant rainbow took shape, suggesting to all of us that we had done well.

Changing a ripped sail would have been more than enough to make this a notable day on waʻa, but Day 5 was far from over.  I had a cooking adventure in front of me – poi pancakes at 7 knots. 

Amongst our provisions is 6 pounds of poi from Hoʻokuaʻāina, a nonprofit in Kapalai, Kailua, O’ahu, which is a special organization to me. I have spent several years now volunteering at their lo’i, getting to know their staff and the Wilhelm family (the organization’s founders), and writing about the amazing impacts of their work on people and place. We had been eating poi on the waʻa along with some of our meals, but this morning I was making poi pancakes. I mixed our poi along with two bags of dry taro pancake mix that we had packed, which was not a small accomplishment while going 7 knots with wind rushing past. Pancake mix covered my arms and face as I tried to add the dry mix to the poi inside of our propane cooking box on deck. 

Double Rainbow for our kiʻi

I heated some oil and began to make the pancakes, one by one, carefully holding the cooking box slightly open to prevent the wind from blowing out the flame. I began to hand out the purple pancakes to the awaiting crew, and the critics were raving—“No even need syrup!” There are few feelings more satisfying than feeding the crew a good meal, and this was one of my first meals taking the lead (I am often the sous chef to Nālamakū). The feeling was enough to sustain me through several hours of cooking dozens and dozens of pancakes one by one to use up the big bowl of pancake mix that I had made (perhaps more than we needed, but all of the pancakes were definitely eaten).

After a nap, I was back on deck. The afternoon was sunny, and we were sailing well. Suddenly, Archie pointed: “Look, dolphins!” A pod of at least 30 small dolphins were surfing and jumping about 100 feet from our port side. We were close enough to see them beneath the water. I ran over and grabbed one of our pū kani on deck. I blew the conch a number of times as the dolphins swam past us, across our bow, and onto our starboard side towards the setting sun. A few people came up quickly to close our head sail, and I figured that we might be slowing down for the dolphins. It turned out that as I began to blow the pū for the dolphins, we hooked up two big ahi on our two fishing lines running from the back of the waʻa. From the back of the starboard hull, Timi and Kamu worked to pull in a beautiful 70 pound ahi. On the port side, Archie and Nālamakū were pulling in another ahi, perhaps twice as big, before the ahi wrestled itself off the hook. But one ahi was more than enough. We even sent half of the fish over to Hikianalia with a bucket and floating line so that they could share in the bounty. For dinner, we had chicken long rice soup and fresh ahi sashimi.

Still, the day was not over. As the sun set, Archie, Kana, and I set up for our 6-10pm evening watch, and the most beautiful starry sky that we had seen throughout our trip opened up above us. We radio-called Hikianalia and turned off our anchor light for a moment to appreciate the full brilliance of the stars. I stood in awe as I saw the brightest shooting star that I had ever seen streak across the sky. Lightning flashed on the horizon from a distant, passing storm (luckily far away from us). In every direction, there were stars guiding the way to Tahiti, affirming for Lehua and our crew that we were on the right path, the same path that was well-traveled by the ancestors of our islands. A heritage corridor. An ancestral pathway. A pathway to that which lies beyond the horizon. Kealaikahiki. Home.

Chris remarking at the rainbows

As Nainoa has pointed out in conversations with our group: Who drew circles around our Pacific islands and decided that these were our territories? Perhaps not the Native peoples of our own islands. Are our ancestral voyaging pathways not also our homelands, extensions and connections of our vast ocean nations? Nainoa tells us that when he asked a group of Tahitian leaders recently about why Hōkūleʻa matters to them, they said that the success of Hōkūleʻa in Hawai’i was felt as a success for Tahiti. Hōkūleʻa has reminded us that there may be many diverse islands throughout Moananuiākea, our vast global ocean, but at our core, we are one.  This is the truth that we keep returning to as we sail Kealaikahiki. Unity is our inevitable reality as well as our goal. Our crew must act as one to reach our destination. Our nations must act as one if we are to see the change that we need in our world. 

On Hōkūleʻa, we are able to better tune-in to the signs of our ancestors, from rainbows to dolphins to ahi to shooting stars, guiding us towards deeper truths, ancestral pathways of the future, well-traveled roads of abundance that lie in Kahiki, those places that hold our potential for becoming the ancestors that our descendants need. Our Kealaikahiki voyage is teaching me how to listen, and I am humbled to be learning with an amazing crew on Kealaikahiki, one of the best classrooms on Earth.

Vance Kaleohano Kahahawai Farrant

To follow the journey to Tahiti, please visit the voyaging dashboard at www.WaaHonua.com.

PVS Launches First Phase of Virtual Canoe

www.waahonua.com offers daily lessons in navigation, culture and history

Iconic voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa and her sister canoe Hikanalia set sail for Tahiti today, crewed by a new generation of navigators and accompanied by a virtual addition to the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) fleet.  Waahonua.com, named after Waʻa Honua (Canoe for the Earth), is a digital platform that will follow PVS to Tahiti and back on the Kealaikahiki Voyage and join the canoes for the Moananuiākea Voyage that begins next year. The fledgling waahonua.com will grow in size and scope as Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia connect people around the globe to the magic of Polynesian wayfinding and the imperative to make better choices for our earth.

“The great navigators of the Pacific had a deep understanding of the systems of nature and how their vessels interacted with those systems, as well as the values needed to successfully voyage over long distances,” said Nainoa Thompson, pwo navigator and PVS chief executive officer. “PVS voyages to perpetuate and deepen this knowledge, which  is critical to protecting our planet. Our young crews are learning  that deep connection,  and so will anyone who voyages with them on Waʻa Honua,” said Thompson.

Created for general audiences and learners of all ages, the platform features video stories, articles, and educational resources focused on developing the “Navigator Mindset.” Content will be produced by PVS and also curated from educational and research partners including Kamehameha Schools, Arizona State University, University of Hawaiʻi, and Bishop Museum.

Daily followers of waahonua.com will find fresh stories highlighting the genealogy of Hōkūleʻa, its founders and early voyages connecting the people and places that sparked the Hawaiian cultural renaissance; conversations with anthropologists, archaeologists and scientists about cultural evolution and natural systems; and navigation and crew updates as the canoes sail to and from Tahiti, and, eventually, around the Pacific Ocean.  The site also highlights navigational lessons, learning resources, and games available on Kamehameha Schools’ new Holomoana website for teachers and students,  as well as heritage lessons related to the Kealaikahiki Voyage and developed by the KS Kaʻiwakīloumoku Pacific Indigenous Institute.  Additional features being developed for waahonua.com include virtual expeditions, live streams and moderated discussions.

“Our hope is for waahonua.com to become a digital global hub that carries the critical cargo of our community’s values, lessons, and stories, and connects all the partners and the people who are part of our larger Mālama Honua voyage and movement, no matter where they are around the world,” said Thompson.

“Connected by common values, the crew of the virtual canoe includes universities, schools, educators, scientists, explorers, storytellers, artists, elders, young leaders, policy makers, innovators, and anyone who has a gift for the planet,” he added. “As each partner steps on board, he, she, they make a promise to the earth. Everyone can be a navigator of their own voyage for the future of the earth.” 


Waʻa Honua Development

The waahonua.com web site is being designed and maintained by the Nakupuna Foundation.

“Nainoa Thompson and PVS have a clear vision of what is needed to reclaim the health of Moananuiākea, not just for the people of the Pacific, but for the planet. PVS’s commitment to create a digital canoe that can reach people across the globe to inspire a planetary renaissance is an effort that will be impactful for generations. The Nakupuna Foundation is humbled to join with PVS in the construction of Waʻa Honua,” said Lindsay Ah Loo, executive director, Nakupuna Foundation.

Educational Partners

Educational partners creating platforms and learning tools linked to waahonua.com include Kamehameha Schools, Arizona State University, University of Hawaiʻi and Bishop Museum.

“Devoted to our kuleana for Native Hawaiian education, Kamehameha Schools was there when Hōkūleʻa first entered the waters of Kualoa in 1975. Today, we continue our legacy of learning and cultural leadership through the real-life voyage, as well as the many virtual explorations that empower Pacific people, and help restore the environment throughout Moananuiākea and the greater world.  We are proud to have KS Digital, Holomoana, and Kaʻiwakīloumoku as crew members on Waʻa Honua.com,” says Jack Wong, CEO of Kamehameha Schools.

“Arizona State University is honored to be part of the creation and launch of the Waʻa Honua. We are inspired by the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s mission and actions. We bring ASU’s commitments to inclusion, our research and discovery toward a public good, and re-affirm that we will take fundamental responsibility for our shared home: Planet Earth,” said Michael Crow, president of ASU.

“From Hōkūleʻa’s maiden journey to circumnavigating the planet has been an amazing evolution in ocean voyaging.  And from the first PVS web site developed at our Kapiʻolani Community College to this Waʻa Honua has been an amazing evolution in cyberspace.  Today we can harness advanced digital technologies to let anyone anywhere participate virtually in the circumnavigation of the Pacific with the crew.  And as importantly, we can enable everyone everywhere to work with us to achieve the mission of the voyage – to achieve a healthy and sustainable planet for all,” said David Lassner, president of University of Hawaiʻi.

“Bishop Museum is honored to continue its long legacy of partnership with members of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, cultural practitioners and communities across the Pacific. We look forward to joining Waʻa Honua on its journey and providing access to primary source materials, generating knowledge and sharing stories. Together, we can face the global crisis unfolding as a result of our own human behaviors, help to heal our ʻāina and support cultural resilience in the face of climate change,” said Melanie Ide, President and CEO of Bishop Museum.

Waʻa Honua Content Sponsors

The PVS storytelling and content is being developed thanks to the generous support of several sponsors including:

  • Dawson
  • Engage the Senses Foundation
  • Schmidt Foundation, Eleventh Hour Racing

The initial round of storytelling content is produced in Hawaiʻi by Kūmau Productions and Rock Salt Media. 

Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia on their way to Tahiti

Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia departed Hilo today at 12:30 pm and are now on their way to Tahiti.   The crew were in Hilo for the last five days waiting for the best weather conditions to launch the canoes on Kealaikahiki, the 2,500-mile ancient sea road to Tahiti.  The “Kealaikahiki Voyage” will focus on navigational training and cultural protocol to prepare the crew and test the canoes before they embark on the Moananuiākea Voyage next year.  

The deep-sea leg is designed to train crew who will become the captains and navigators who lead the Moananuiākea Voyage.  On Hōkūleʻa, Lehua Kamalu will become the first woman to lead-captain and lead-navigate a canoe from Hawaiʻi to Tahiti.  On Hikianalia, the captain is Kaniela Lyman-Mersereau and the navigator is Kaleo Wong.  

While in French Polynesia, voyaging leaders will also be participating in the Blue Climate Summit, a high-level meeting to discuss ocean protection and climate change.  

Weather-permitting, Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia are expected to reach Tahiti in approximately 20 days and are scheduled to return to Oʻahu around June 15, 2022.

For more details on the Kealikahiki Voyage, visit www.hokulea.com.  

Major sponsors continuing to support the voyaging efforts of PVS include Atherton Family Foundation, Shaw US Foundation, Nakupuna Foundation, Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate, Sealaska Foundation, Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, HEI, Hawaiian Electric, American Savings Bank, Hawaii Tourism Authority, Matson, Omidyar ʻOhana and Hawaiian Airlines.

As we embark upon this journey, we seek to live, grow and be “pili”.

1. nvi. To cling, stick, adhere, touch, join, adjoin, cleave to, associate with, be with, be close or adjacent; clinging, sticking; close relationship, relative; thing belonging to.

Sailing Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia through nā kōwā of our pae ‘āina has set the fertile foundation for the connections needed for a successful voyage. The Kaʻiwi, Kalohi, Kealaikahiki, Alalākeiki, and ʻAlenuihaha channel crossings allowed our waʻa and crew to be challenged, to build our relationships and connections – our pilina – necessary to support each other in our kuleana. Sailing together is a constant dance, where the crews trim the sails and adjust weight throughout the journey, in constant communication with the canoe.  With each passing moment, crew and canoe meld to become one, working in harmony to achieve a common goal, to reach a common destination.

Photo: Chris Blake

We become pili with the language of nature. With ka makani, ka moana, ka lewa lani. We are immersed in our surroundings and continue to refine our kilo practice, to see each detail, each subtle shift which may affect our course, balance our wa’a, balance ourselves so we can receive all that our journey will present to us. Seeing the sunrise, orienting the swells, and then aligning our course to carry us down to our destination, wikiwiki, a Kealaikahiki.

Photo: Chris Blake

As we travel the searoad of our kūpuna, we are reminded of the connective tissues that binds us to those we leave behind, those who provided the safety, nurturing, and love we needed to grow as voyagers, to have the strength to leave the dock.  We leave them behind in Hawaiʻi, however they voyage with us in our thoughts and our dreams, bringing mana and intention to our journey down this heritage corridor to te poʻo o te feʻe nui.

Photo: Chris Blake

We are also reminded of those who we carry with us, pili to these canoes throughout time.  Prior to departure, we were able to aloha and activate our kūpuna. We called to Rudy, Wally, Piʻimauna, Hiʻiakaikeʻalemoe, Kamohoaliʻi, Lupenui, Hakipuʻu, Honolua, Te Ariki Tu, Tommy, Tumoanatane, Kawainui, Tautira, Kapu nā Keiki, Lacy, Byron, Mau, Eddie, Nainoa, Kiha Wahine o ka Mau o Malu Ulu o Lele, Kāne o Hōkūle’a o Kalani, Kupe, Kanaloakapulehu, Kanemilohaʻi, Ruapehu, Pelehonuamea, Mauiākalana, Mōʻīkeha, Hinare, Hekenukumai, Tongariro, Hiʻiakaikahoʻokele and the multitudes who have sailed before us. We honor them as akua who guide us to our destination, and who will also guide those who voyage for generations to come.

Photo: Chris Blake

Building these connections is challenging work, and is essential. We trust and depend upon each and every crewmember for strength and protection as we work cohesively together to bring our destination closer and closer. As nā hōkū of the southern skies rise higher in the horizon, we approach our destination through our collective, as pili.  We are one canoe, one crew voyaging across the one ocean that sustains life on this planet for all.

Aloha ‘āina,

Chris Blake “Bahlahkay”