The “Kealaikahiki Voyage” to focus on succession, cultural protocol and ocean rights
Polynesian voyaging canoes Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia are getting ready to set sail on the ancient sea road of Kealaikahiki to Hawaiʻi’s ancestral homeland of 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. 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. The canoes are tentatively scheduled to depart Sand Island, Oʻahu on Monday, April 4, 2022 (weather permitting) and will make a stop in Hilo before continuing on to Tahiiti. The canoes are expected to arrive in Papeete, Tahiti by April 30.
As part of the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s (PVS) succession plan, next generation voyaging leaders will captain and navigate the two canoes from Hilo to Tahiti. Lehua Kamalu will captain Hōkūleʻa; on this voyage she will become the first woman to captain and navigate a canoe from Hawaiʻi to Tahiti. On Hikianalia, Pwo navigator Bruce Blankenfeld will be training two captains, Kaniela Lyman-Mersereau and Kaleo Wong. The deep-sea leg is designed to train crew who will become the captains and navigators who lead the Moananuiākea Voyage.
“2022 is truly a building year for PVS. With this Tahiti Voyage and through July we will be conducting 8,000 miles of deep-sea leadership training focused on captains and navigators who will take the canoes around the Pacific for the Moananuiākea Voyage,” said Pwo navigator and PVS CEO Nainoa Thompson. “If the state of COVID-19 allows it, we will train 220 new crew members from the end of this voyage through 2023. We plan to sail 3,000 miles around the state, connecting with schools and communities in 25 different ports,” Thompson added.
In addition to immersive navigational and crew training, one of the main purposes of the “Kealaikahiki Voyage” is to follow the ancient voyaging protocol of sailing to the sacred navigational heiau of Taputapuātea in Raʻiātea, French Polynesia to seek permission to launch a major voyage. Taputapuātea’s cultural elders will conduct highly sacred ceremonies to affirm the Kealaikahiki sea road and to consecrate Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia as sacred vessels of heritage carrying the mana (spirit) of Polynesia throughout the vast Pacific on the Moananuiākea Voyage.
Following the cultural ceremonies in Tahiti, Thompson will co-convene the The Blue Climate Summit, which will be held in French Polynesia on May 14-20, 2022, to accelerate ocean-related solutions to climate change. The Blue Climate Summit is an endorsed action of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and is co-hosted with the Government of French Polynesia. More than 250 leaders, scientists, engineers, community, business, youth, policymakers, conservationists and influencers are expected to come together to accelerate solutions to some of the greatest challenges facing humankind.
With regards to the COVID-19 pandemic, PVS’ medical team has been closely following case numbers and information, and have updated and will continue to update its plans and protocols accordingly. The voyage to Tahiti has been postponed three times over the last two years due to the pandemic.
“Our priority is the health and safety not only of our own crew and their families, but of our community and the communities that graciously allow us to visit,” said PVS medical officer Dr. Seren Tokumura. “We are currently seeing Tahiti’s numbers of COVID-19 infections and deaths matching the trends worldwide, and with our current health and safety protocols in place, we feel that we are ready to return to Tahiti at this time.”
Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia are scheduled to return to Oʻahu around June 15, 2022.
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.