Crew Profile

East-West Center Honors Master Navigator Nainoa Thompson


At a gala dinner celebration Wednesday night with 550 people in attendance, the East-West Center celebrated its 55th year and honored master traditional navigator Nainoa Thompson with the Center’s Asia Pacific Community Building Award.

image003“If you’re building an Asia Pacific community, the inspiration comes from an Asia Pacific community, and that’s what we are in Hawai‘i,” said East-West Center President Charles E. Morrison. “There are a lot of inspiring examples in Hawai‘i, and we’re honoring one of the most inspirational tonight, Nainoa Thompson – a great inspiration to our students, a great inspiration to our state, a great inspiration to our island region, the Asia Pacific region and now to the world.”

Added Hawai‘i Gov. David Ige: “As we talk of Hawai‘i’s part in building the relationship between East and West, I think it is very appropriate that tonight we honor a man who has played a key role in helping build understanding and relations across the Pacific and beyond.”

Accepting the award “in all humility,” Thompson said: “The East-West Center was born out of extraordinary vision and extraordinary beliefs by extraordinary leaders. To me, the Center is a pu‘u honua (place of refuge), a place where we all can be safe. I remember as a boy, with my dad being around the periphery of the founding of the Center, always having a sense that the East-West Center was a place of hope, with a fundamental belief that you could bring people together around the Pacific… a place where we could find that hope of peace.”

About the Asia Pacific Community Building Award

The Asia Pacific Community Building Award recognizes outstanding leaders whose vision and professional and personal accomplishments exemplify the mission of the East-West Center. Past recipients include the Honorable George R. Ariyoshi, former Governor of the State of Hawai‘i; His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand; the Honorable US Senator Daniel K. Inouye; Houghton “Buck” and Doreen Freeman of the Freeman Foundation; Her Excellency Corazon Aquino, former President of the Philippines; Dr. Genshitsu (Soshitsu XV) Sen, former Grand Master of the Urasenke Tea Tradition; and Mr. Ratan Tata, Chairman of Tata Trusts.

About Honoree Nainoa Thompson

image007Nainoa Thompson is a Native Hawaiian navigator and President of the Polynesian Voyaging Society. His dedication to the rebirth of traditional voyaging, and to sharing the cultural revival that has spread across Polynesia with the rest of the world, has played a leading role in helping build understanding and relations across the Pacific and beyond.
The Polynesian Voyaging Society and the East-West Center share a long and valued history together, and through ongoing collaborations with the Center’s Pacific Islands and leadership education programs, EWC staff and participants continue to share in Nainoa’s vision of sharing Pacific culture, learning from the past and from each other, and creating global relationships.


ewcsig-tag_rgbdisplay_transThe EAST-WEST CENTER promotes better relations and understanding among the people and nations of the United States, Asia, and the Pacific through cooperative study, research, and dialogue. Established by the U.S. Congress in 1960, the Center serves as a resource for information and analysis on critical issues of common concern, bringing people together to exchange views, build expertise, and develop policy options.


Press release and photos provided by East-West Center


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