Hōkūleʻa Sets Sail for Sydney
HONOLULU – The Hawaiian voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa and her crewmembers have departed New Zealand today, leaving the Pacific Ocean for the first time in her 40-year history. The canoe’s master navigator will use traditional Polynesian navigation techniques to sail to Sydney, Australia and is expected to arrive in the first week of May. The journey is part of Hōkūleʻa’s 47,000 nautical-mile sail around the world to bring attention to the importance of protecting environmental and cultural treasures for future generations.
“Australia is on our sail plan because of its incredible natural and cultural treasures, and our desire to explore a part of the world that is new to us,” said Polynesian Voyaging Society president and master navigator, Nainoa Thompson. “It is a place that we can relate to because of the potential of bringing together diverse sectors to care for our ocean. In Hawaiʻi, blending indigenous stewardship practices with other best practices can help us find positive ways forward, and we are seeking to learn from similar approaches in Australia so we can share that knowledge with other communities as we continue to voyage around the world.”
The current Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage, sponsored by Hawaiian Airlines, is a four-year voyage spanning 85 ports, 26 nations, and 12 of UNESCO’s Marine World Heritage sites. Mālama Honua means “to care for Island Earth” and a new generation of navigators is learning to use wayfinding not only to find islands, but to help find a sustainable future. Crewmembers are gathering and sharing information from all ports about positive solutions for environmental challenges such as ocean pollution, over fishing, climate change, and sea level rise. The Worldwide Voyage has covered 7,000 nautical miles and 24 Pacific Islands to date since its launch in 2013.
Departure ceremonies in New Zealand guided by ancient Maori and Hawaiian cultural protocols helped to prepare the canoe and crew for safe travels into new horizons. Preparation for departure also centered on government and community-based declarations that Hōkūleʻa will take to the United Nations in New York in 2016. Throughout the Pacific, ocean protection declarations and community-led commitments were given to Hōkūleʻa by the President of Palau, as Chair of the 16 member Pacific island forum, the President of French Polynesia, and the Governor of American Sāmoa. Additional community-led commitments on board the historic voyaging canoe include the Hawaiʻi Promise to Paeʻāina, and an Indigenous Youth Declaration from the World Indigenous People’s Conference on Education.
Hōkūleʻa’s captain for the Australia leg of the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage, master navigator Bruce Blankenfeld, will be presenting on traditional navigation and the Worldwide Voyage at the Australian Museum on May 20. After Sydney, Hōkūleʻa anticipates making stops in Brisbane, Townsville, Cairns, Thursday Island, and the Great Barrier Reef, weather and safety conditions permitting. The voyaging canoe will sail throughout Australia until late July, before continuing on to Indonesia, Madagascar, and South Africa at the end of 2015.