Governor, Lawmakers Approve PVS Specialty License Plate

Plates Featuring Hōkūleʻa to be Available in Late Summer

Gov. David Ige today signed into law legislation allowing the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) to create and sell commemorative license plates to support its continuing mission to promote Mālama Honua, or care for Island Earth. 

The Governor was joined in a public signing ceremony by Sen. Lorraine Inouye (D-Hilo, Hāmākua, Kohala, Waimea, Waikōloa, Kona), who introduced the bill and Rep. Cedric Gates (D-Wai‘anae, Mākaha, Mauka Mā‘ili), who led support for the legislation in the House. SB60, CD1,was unanimously approved by the Hawaiʻi State Legislature on April 27, 2021. With Governor Igeʻs signature today, the measure became known as Act 11.  It takes effect on July 1, 2021. 

“This is a strong demonstration of support for our mission and for the vision of a planetary renaissance that the state of Hawai‘i i is leading,” said PVS President and Pwo Navigator Nainoa Thompson. “All of us at PVS are grateful to the Hawai‘i State Legislature and the Governor for providing us the opportunity to generate revenue to voyage on behalf of Island Earth.”

Thompson led the traditional voyaging canoe Hōkūle‘a on the six-year Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage, connecting communities in more than 150 ports in 18 nations to the global impacts of climate change. This summer, PVS will begin crew-training sails to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and French Polynesia in preparation for the 42,000-mile, 42-month Moananuiākea Circumnavigation of the Pacific, which is expected to launch on May 1, 2022. 

“The Worldwide Voyage helped all of us to understand the reality of climate change, and why it makes sense for Hawai‘i to lead the way in creating bold goals such as for clean energy, said Gov. Ige.  “We should all be very proud that Hōkūle‘a has become a global symbol of how traditional indigenous practice can ignite a common kuleana to protect and care for Island Earth.” 

Gov. Ige recently said that Hawai‘i is on track to achieve its goal of creating 100 percent clean renewable energy for electricity ahead of schedule and Hawaiʻi’s goal to be carbon negative as quickly as practicable is inspiring the world to raise ambition on the climate crisis. 

The preliminary design of the special PVS license plate depicts Hōkūle‘a at anchor at Kualoa on Windward O‘ahu, an area sacred to deep-sea voyagers, and from which Hōkūle‘a first launched on March 8, 1975 (see attached image). The design is under review by county police departments and will be produced by the City and County of Honolulu. The first plates are expected to be available for purchase for $25 in late August by the owner of any Hawaiʻi registered vehicle. 

Anyone interested in receiving updates about the plate or how to order one is welcome to email PVS at

The Polynesian Voyaging Society was founded in 1973 on a legacy of Pacific Ocean exploration, seeking to perpetuate the art and science of traditional Polynesian voyaging and the spirit of exploration through experiential educational programs that inspire students and their communities to respect and care for themselves, one another, and their natural and cultural environments. For more information about the Polynesian Voyaging Society and the Worldwide Voyage, visit or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia Sail to Honolua Bay, Maui on 45th Anniversary of Hōkūleʻa’s Maiden Voyage to Tahiti

(Honolua Bay, Maui, HI) –  May 1, 2021 marks 45 years since the voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa departed Honolua Bay, Maui for her maiden voyage to Tahiti.  It was the first time in more than 600 years a Polynesian voyaging canoe sailed down Kealaikahiki, the ancestral sea road connecting Hawaiʻi and Tahiti, using traditional navigation.  It was also the day that Micronesian navigator Mau Piailug began giving to Hawai’i the gift of ancestral non-instrument navigation – the knowledge of wayfinding that had been lost in Hawai’i for hundreds of years.  In celebration of this historic day, Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia sailed from Oʻahu and arrived at Honolua Bay this morning to remember and honor the voyaging visionaries, Mau Piailug and the 1976 crew members who courageously took risks and in doing so reawakened a lost tradition and helped to restore pride and dignity to Native Hawaiians.  

The crew also honored Pwo Navigator Kālepa Baybayan, who passed away last month, by sailing past his family’s home near Lahaina.  On May 1 1976, Baybayan was a young man who quietly helped to paddle crew members from the shore of Honolua Bay to Hōkūleʻa for departure.  It was a day that helped ignite his passion for the canoe, voyaging, navigation and ultimately a life dedicated to the Hawaiian culture and language.

On the day before arriving at Honolua Bay, Friday, April 30, a small group from the voyaging community went mauka to Puʻu Kukui, the largest private nature preserve in Hawaiʻi.  Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) president Nainoa Thompson and Pwo navigator Bruce Blankenfeld presented a stone plaque in the koa forest that was dedicated to Baybayan and the Kālepa Ohana.  They also built a star compass and planted koa tree saplings in honor of Baybayan, the PVS founders, teachers and crew who have contributed to Hōkūleʻa’s legacy over the last 45 years.

The Hokule’a crew members on the 1976 voyage from Hawaiʻi to Tahiti included Clifford Ah Mow, Shorty Bertelmann, Ben Finney, Tommy Holmes, Sam Kalalau, Boogie Kalama, Kawika Kapahulehua, Buffalo Keaulana, John Kruse, Dukie Kuahulu, David Lewis, Dave Lyman, Billy Richards, Rodo Williams and master navigator Mau Piailug who used nature’s clues – wind, waves, stars, birds, clouds – to find their way to Tahiti, despite never having sailed the Southern Hemisphere .  There were also two “National Geographic” documentarians on board: photographer Nicholas DeVore and filmmaker Dale Bell.  Four of the original crew members are still living and active in the voyaging community including Bertelmann, Keaulana, Kruse and Richards. Filmmaker Dale Bell is also still living.

The majority of crew members on board Hokule’a and Hikianalia are the youngest generation of voyagers, able to stand on the shoulders of the great voyagers before them.  This morning at Honolua Bay, they and the veterans including Pwo Navigators Bruce Blankenfeld and Nainoa Thompson, reflected on the impact of Hōkūleʻa’s legacy over the last 45 years.   They envisioned what the world will be like when the canoes return to Honolua Bay upon the completion of the Moananuiākea Voyage.  This Honolua Bay sail is one of a series of training sails to prepare the crew for the 41,000-mile, 42-month circumnavigation of the Pacific that will cover 46 countries and archipelagoes, nearly 100 indigenous territories and 345 ports.  Focused on the vital importance of oceans, nature and indigenous knowledge, the goal of the Moananuiākea Voyage is to develop young crew members, navigators and leaders for the planet.

“A year from today, May 1, 2022, we will launch the Moananuiākea Voyage and in five years from today we will return here to Honolua Bay to mark 50 years of Hōkūleʻa and voyaging,” said Nainoa Thompson, president of Polynesian Voyaging Society.  “We believe the world needs navigators, and we are laying down that challenge now, that in five years when we return to Honolua Bay, we will have inspired and elevated 10 million navigators and young leaders of all kinds to lead our earth into a sustainable, thriving future.”

On the way back to Honolulu, Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia sailed by Kalaupapa, Moloka’i to remember, pay respect and aloha the community that welcomed the crew that brought Hōkūleʻa home from Tahiti in 1976.  As Thompson recounts, the Hōkūleʻa crew was told to hold-off and not return to O’ahu yet as preparations to celebrate their arrival were not completed, so the decision was made to wait off of Kalaupapa for safe anchorage, away from big crowds.  He says “The crew didn’t go ashore but the Kalaupapa patients crowded into a row boat with their ukulele and went out to Hōkūleʻa, climbed on board and they were joyously singing on the canoe.” 

Remembering Chad Kālepa Baybayan

Photo Courtesy of Nāʻālehu Anthony, ʻŌiwi TV

Hawai’i’s voyaging community is mourning the loss of an important leader, teacher, captain and pwo navigator.  Chad Kālepa Baybayan dedicated his life to community, education, Hawaiian culture, exploration and voyaging.  He believed that Hōkūleʻa was a vehicle to carry the values of kindness, compassion and generosity.  When asked about sailing on Hōkūleʻa, he said “it’s about stewardship in the way that you aloha the canoe, and aloha each other on board the canoe, it’s about life-long friendship, it’s about building good and healthy relationships, it’s about committing to the idea of aloha to your community and service.” He saw Hōkūleʻa as a symbol for successful aspirations and a promise for all that is possible. “It is a reminder of all that we have accomplished in the face of enormous adversity,” he said

Photo Courtesy of Polynesian Voyaging Society

Kālepa first sailed on Hōkūleʻa in 1975 and participated on all major Hōkūleʻa voyages since 1980, including 18 legs of the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage. He also served as captain on the voyaging canoes Hawai‘iloa and Hōkūalaka‘i.

Photo Courtesy of Dan Lin

A constant learner passionate about teaching, Kālepa shared his knowledge and inspired thousands of  students through his work as the Site Director of Honuakai, the Exploration Sciences Division of the ‘Aha Pūnana Leo, which teaches Hawaiian Language to participants that crew aboard Hōkūalaka‘i. He also served as the Navigator in Residence at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i developing wayfinding activities, curriculum materials, and conducting outreach. In 2007, on the Micronesian island of Satawal, his teacher, master navigator Mau Piailug, initiated Kālepa and four other Hōkūleʻa navigators into the order of Pwo, the two-thousand-year-old Micronesian society of deep-sea navigators. Mau had said a navigator never becomes a master until he/she passes away, and after having trained and taught someone else to carry navigation. That places Kālepa among the great masters. He will be extremely missed on the deck of our canoes, but we know his legacy will live on through his children, grandchildren and students, and he will continue to sail with, guide and teach us.

Photo Courtesy of Nāʻālehu Anthony, ʻŌiwi TV

Mahalo nui loa Kālepa.

Photo Courtesy of Dan Lin
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Happy Holidays From The Polynesian Voyaging Society

Hauʻoli Lanui – Happy Holidays and mahalo for helping us to inspire mālama honua across our Island Earth. Especially during these challenging times, we are reminded how important it is to care for our land, oceans, cultures, each other and our communities.

A special mahalo to our crewmembers, supporters, volunteers and sponsors for helping us to grow the legacy of Hōkuleʻa, Hikianalia and the art and science of traditional navigation.

Mahalo nui loa,

PVS Staff & Board Members

1985 Hōkūleʻa Crew Reflect on Voyage that Ignited the Contemporary Māori Canoe movement

Part 1 of a new episode of Kaʻiwakīloumoku’s Pacific Conversations video podcast premieres Wednesday, November 25, 2020 (HST) on Kaʻiwakīloumoku’s website (

In commemoration of the 35th Anniversary of the epic sail from Rarotonga to Waitangi and the birth of the Hawaiian tribe, Ngāti Ruawāhia, 6th Tribe of Te Tai Tokerau, Nainoa Thompson (navigator), Shorty Bertelmann (captain), Bruce Blankenfeld, Kālepa Baybayan, Billy Richards, Harry Ho, and Māori crew member Stanley Conrad (Te Aupōuri) reunite and share inspiring stories about the the historic landfall at Waitangi that ignited the contemporary Māori waka (canoe) movement.

Stay tuned for Ngāti Ruawāhia Part 2: Sir Hector Hekenukumai Busby – Hawaiʻi’s Legacy in Aotearoa. Part 2 debuts Wednesday, December 2, 2020 (HST) and includes reflections Sir Hekenukumai Pūhipi Busby, builder of bridges and waka, and Hawaiʻi’s legacy in Aotearoa.

PVS Documentary and Live Panel Featured at Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF)

HIFF Presents “He Wa’a, He Honua – The Earth Is Our Canoe”
The film (plus four other Hōkūleʻa documentaries) are available free of charge via through Nov. 29
A one-hour documentary produced in partnership with ‘Ulu’ulu, Hawai’i’s moving image archive, that pays tribute to the sweeping cultural renaissance that began in the 1970s and will continue with a movement of environmental revitalization led by Hōkūleʻa and Hawai’i. The film looks back at the people and actions that reclaimed language, land, voyaging and other cultural practices and invites viewers to join Hōkūleʻa in the next renaissance – that of Island Earth. The special includes archival footage from many of Hōkūleʻa’s well-documented voyages, interspersed with commentary from past, present and future leaders.

Live Panel: “Visions of Hōkūleʻa” hosted by PVS, ‘Ulu’ulu and HIFF
Date: Friday, Nov. 20, 7 pm (HST)
A free, live online panel discussion with visionary and courageous leaders of the 1970s Hawaiian rights movement and the young leaders who will propel us to a new renaissance. Moderator: Elisa Yadao
Panelists: Voices of Renaissance — Dr. Emmet Aluli, Walter Ritte, Nainoa Thompson, Larry Kimura, Governor John Waihee, Bruce Blankenfeld.
Voices of Young Leaders — Denise Espania, Kaiʻulani Murphy, Pomai Bertelmann.

Register for “Visions of Hōkūleʻa” Live Panel (Free, open to the public):

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PVS Premiers New Documentary and Launches 2021 Membership Drive

“He Wa’a, He Honua – The Earth Is Our Canoe” premiers Saturday, November 14, on KGMB and will be featured along with a live panel at the Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF).

The Polynesian Voyaging Society is kicking off its 2021 Membership Drive with the premier of “He Wa’a, He Honua – The Earth Is Our Canoe,” on Saturday, November 14, on KGMB. The film also will be featured online at Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF), along with a live panel discussion focused on renaissance.

The one-hour documentary produced in partnership with ‘Ulu’ulu, Hawai’i’s moving image archive, pays tribute to the sweeping cultural renaissance that began in the 1970s and will continue with a movement of environmental revitalization led by Hōkūleʻa and Hawai’i. The film looks back at the people and actions that reclaimed language, land, voyaging and other cultural practices and invites viewers to join Hōkūleʻa in the next renaissance – that of Island Earth. The special includes archival footage from many of Hōkūleʻa’s well-documented voyages, interspersed with commentary from past, present and future leaders.

The film shares a message that even as we all cope with the uncertainty created by the global pandemic, we see the continued impacts of human activity on our environment and our planet, and we feel an imperative to continue our work to Mālama Honua (care for Island Earth).

In addition to the premier airing of “He Wa’a, He Honua – The Earth Is Our Canoe” on Saturday, Nov. 14, 7 pm (HST) on KGMB, the show will air as follows (HST):

*Sunday, Nov. 15, 7 to 8 pm on KGMB and KFVE
*Monday, Nov. 16, 7 to 8 pm on KFVE
*Sunday, Nov. 22, 9 to 10 pm on KHNL

The program also will be LIVE steamed on Sat. Nov. 14, 7- 8 pm (HST) via, and will be available on all HNN digital platforms (desktop, mobile, Roku, OTT).

Hawaii International Festival (HIFF) will present the film along with a series of five past Hōkūleʻa documentaries for free of charge online at, Nov. 16-29. On Friday, Nov. 20, 7 pm HIFF will present a live panel discussion featuring some of the renaissance leaders from “He Wa’a, He Honua – The Earth Is Our Canoe,” including Nainoa Thompson, Walter Ritte, Dr. Emmett Aluli, Governor John Waihee, Bruce Blankenfeld and Larry Kimura, as well as representatives from the next generation of leaders. See details on the HIFF presentation here.

Mahalo nui loa to the sponsors of “He Wa’a, He Honua – The Earth Is Our Canoe”:

Hōkūleʻa Sponsors:
Kamehameha Schools

Hikianalia Sponsors:
Hawaii Tourism Authority
HEI, Hawaiian Electric, American Savings Bank
Julie Ann Wrigley ASU Global Futures Laboratory

Wayfinder Sponsors:
Ward Village
Zephyr Insurance

Voyager Sponsors:
Arizona State University
Tim Johns

PVS hopes to encourage support for the voyage and educational campaign by becoming a PVS member. For more information about the Polynesian Voyaging Society, membership and the airing of “He Wa’a, He Honua – The Earth Is Our Canoe,” visit or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

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