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. 

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