Hōkūleʻa Update | Return to Taputapuatea

Traditional Polynesian voyaging canoes Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia were welcomed by local dignitaries, spiritual elders and community members at Taputapuatea. The marae, or the focal meeting ground, is located on the southeastern coast of Raiatea in French Polynesia. The purpose of the stop was to honor the ancient tradition of Hawaii’s Polynesian ancestors who would go to Taputapuatea, the spiritual center for voyagers of the Pacific, to ceremonially launch and close their voyages of discovery. After sailing about 100 miles from Papeete, Tahiti, the canoes arrived at Taputapuatea on the morning of April 25, 2017 following the historic protocol of entering via the sacred pass of Teava Moa.

The ceremony began with pwo navigator Nainoa Thompson and captain Billy Richards returning two sacred stones to the marae that were given to the crew when the canoes last visited Taputapuatea in 2014 to launch the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage. The return of the two stones signified that the Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia crews fulfilled their responsibility to sail around the world and deepened the connection between Hawaii and its navigational roots in Taputapuatea.

“These stones carried the spirits of all of our ancestors and the direct descendants of all of our families as we sailed around the world,” said Thompson. “Today we brought the stones home to Taputapuatea and were granted permission from by our ancestral family to return home. It’s the last permission based on the fulfillment of many promises we made,” he added.


In addition to the spiritual elders of Taputapuatea, the crew was greeted by French Polynesia president Edouard Fritch, the Taputapuatea mayor Thomas Moutame, and the country’s minister of culture Heremoana Maamaatuaiahutapu. The day-long ceremony featured the ancient rituals conducted to ceremonially complete a voyage, traditional chants and dance by the Taputapuatea community and students from Kamehameha Schools and Kua O Ka Lā PCS.


In honor of this ceremonial milestone, crewmembers from Hōkūleʻa’s first voyage to French Polynesia in 1976 joined this leg from Tahiti to Raiatea, including Gordon Piianaia, Billy Richards, Snake Ah Hee, Kainoa Lee and John Kruse. Zane Aikau, nephew of 1978 crewmember Eddie Aikau, also participated on the leg on behalf of the Aikau family and 1976 crewmember Buffalo Keaulana who was unable to join the sail.  Special guests who also participated on the overnight sail included Hawaiian Airlines CEO Mark Dunkerley and University of Hawaii president David Lassner.


Once considered the religious and cultural center of Polynesia, Taputapuatea is the location of an ancient marae that was once considered the central temple and religious center of Eastern Polynesia. Established around 1000 AD, the marae was a place of learning where priests and navigators from all over the Pacific would gather to offer sacrifices to the gods and share their knowledge of the genealogical origins of the universe, and of deep ocean navigation.

Most significantly, a truce known as the Faatau Aroha was established with the surrounding islands to form an alliance that lasted for many years and perpetuated the growth of voyaging and exploration leading to the discovery and colonization of all the islands of Eastern Polynesia, including Hawaii, Rapa Nui and Aotearoa (New Zealand).  New marae were established on each of these islands with a rock being taken from Taputapuatea so that Raiatea served as a spiritual link. However, the Faatau Aroha was broken due to a conflict between two leaders of the alliance that resulted to open warfare and an end to large-scale interisland voyaging.


The archaeological remains of Marae Taputapuatea were restored in 1994 and efforts to preserve the site continues. Association Na Papa E Vau Raiatea is working towards having Marae Taputapuatea designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site and continuing work to revive connections between communities of the Polynesian triangle and throughout the Pacific region.

Help fund the Voyage as we sail the East Coast

Hōkūle‘a’s visit to the eastern United States is a historic milestone in her 40 years of voyaging.

Celebrate with us by pledging your support to the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage.

Worldwide Voyage | Finding Rapa Nui

Reflecting on the months leading up to her first voyage to Rapa Nui, Navigator Haunani Kane said, “So we all found out that we were going to Rapa Nui maybe two months beforehand and Nainoa, even at those initial meetings, he continuously told us that in order to prepare for his Rapa Nui trip he spent years studying. And then on top of that he told us how difficult it was for them to find the island on that first trip to Rapa Nui.”

As the most isolated landmass in the world, finding Rapa Nui is a true test of one’s navigation abilities. This feat which Nainoa Thompson accomplished in 1999 was a challenge he would place upon four of his young students. For these apprentice navigators, however, the first of many obstacles would occur before Hōkūleʻa set sail.


“Well we started off as apprentice navigators because it was under the assumption that Nainoa was going to come with us. Unfortunately he had some family stuff that he had to take care of. He decided to go home, and he left us with great leadership, but yea we would be the ones navigating Hōkūleʻa to Rapa Nui,” said Kane.

Lehua Kamalu, a member of the Rapa Nui navigation team said, “Nainoa always says we’re not training to know everything that we’re going to need to know while we’re out there. We are just training ourselves to learn what we need to see and be observant and aware of the signs that are going to give us our direction to actually complete the navigation successfully. I think the dynamic on this particular leg with 4 training navigators was learning how to learn from other people as well as hopefully taking on a bit more responsibility in sharing what you know and helping teach others whether it was other crewmembers or sharing other bits of information with the rest of your team.”

Veteran crewmember Billy Richards said about the navigation team, “They all have their own experiences and I think we all tried, everyone tried, to kōkua the four when they think they needed it. In many ways, though, the four didn’t really need much, they had each other and what I am really glad of is they worked as a team, a really good team.”


Kāne explained what it felt like as the crew neared Rapa Nui, “Searching for an island is a bittersweet experience.  I was almost kind of fearful of that moment because you and your crew you work together the entire way. The crew holds your course and you as the navigator are helping your crew, you are directing them to where they need to be. But I felt like seeing the island or not seeing the island would be on us. That’s entirely on the navigation team. So as we were getting to the point where we thought we would see the island, then we were supposed to see it at this time of the day and okay that passed, and then its in the middle of the day we cannot really see anything. There’s like a whole bunch of clouds, we were looking for the cloud that don’t move. Okay we are passing those clouds. Throughout that morning Max and Keahi were telling us about the spiritual aspects of navigation: trusting your naʻau and going beyond the math and science and having the confidence in yourself.”

Kamalu reflected, “People talk about the magic of Hōkūleʻa, she knows where the island is and I think there is reason for that I think not only is she special but every hand that has created her eveyone that has sailed her um and all those prayers that people put into her, they are really the ones that help her find the island. This was the first time I felt the magic myself.”

Help fund the Voyage as we sail the East Coast

Hōkūle‘a’s visit to the eastern United States is a historic milestone in her 40 years of voyaging.

Celebrate with us by pledging your support to the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage.

Worldwide Voyage | Hikianalia Departs for Tahiti

“This is the Hikianalia crew that is taking the canoe from Honolulu, to Hilo, to the Western tip of the Tuamotu Archipelago, and the final destination is Tahiti.” says Pwo Navigator, Kālepa Baybayan. “Hikianalia is headed back to Tahiti to join back up with Hōkūleʻa again. The canoe was prepared; the majority of the work was done in Honolulu, so when the canoe got to Hilo it was just loading up fresh waters in Hilo and getting last minute supplies.

Part of the last minute work included a review of the sail plan at the ʻImiloa Astronomy Center’s planetarium. There, Kālepa ran through the sail plan, projected course, and kuleana for each crewmember.

“It affords opportunities for more voyagers to participate in the learning process.” says Baybayan. “So, by creating more room on the decks of these voyaging canoes, that’s what we hope to accomplish. Our captain for this voyage is Kalā Tanaka. She’ll also be the primary navigator on board the canoe.”

“Going back to 2014 as an apprentice, I know that Uncle Bruce put that kuleana on us as the apprentices, and we were able to help him, to give him time to rest.” says Kalā Tanaka. “The watch captains helped to relieve the responsibility so that Uncle Bruce coud have these short naps in between. So in order for me to be successful, I also need to have that team that I can rely on as well.”

“Helping to suport her and the navigation will be Kalani Kahalioumi, Kawika Crivello, Luia Paoa, Kaipo Kīʻaha, and Nikki Kamalu. And then, watch captains will be Snake Ahee, Kalani Kahalioumi, and Gary Yuen – so we have a good team.” says Baybayan. “If we are close to the kind of conditions that Hikianalia did in its innaugual crossing to Tahiti in May of 2014, then we are hoping for a relatively quick trip. And now we are ready to start this journey.”

Homecoming - Save the Date - Banner Feb 17 Update

Hōkūle‘a Homecoming – Save the Date

We’ve got more details for you regarding Hōkūleʻa’s historic homecoming in June 2017! Click below to find out more:

Hōkūleʻa Update | February 17, 2017: Haunani’s Morning Update

Aloha, this is Haunani, one of the navigators on the Leg 28 Galapagos to Rapa Nui crew. We just finished another 12 hours of navigation, and this will be your Day 8 morning update. We have been blessed for the last 24 hours with a consistent easterly trade wind swell that we used to navigate off of in the day, and we had one of our clearest nights yet with a whole bunch of planets and stars that we were able to steer by. We approximate that we made 76 miles progress in the southerly direction and lost about 1 mile of easting. We believe we are at about 15 degrees South based upon dead reckoning, keeping track of the speed that we had since the beginning of our trip. We confirmed this with latitude stars. So for example, around midnight we confirmed out latitude with Kamaile Hope, or Beta Centauri, as well as Mimosa, which is the left hand in the Southern Cross. So please continue to follow our journey as we make it down to Rapa Nui. Aloha!

Help fund the Voyage as we sail the East Coast

Hōkūle‘a’s visit to the eastern United States is a historic milestone in her 40 years of voyaging.

Celebrate with us by pledging your support to the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage.

Hōkūleʻa Update | Happy Thanksgiving from Leg 25

From the frigid waters of the U.S. East Coast, the Worldwide Voyage crew wishes their ʻohana a Happy Thanksgiving!

Full Version – Leg 25 Crewmembers

Part 1 – Moani Hemuli, Randy Rickard, Tamiko Fernelius, Kalau Spencer, Shantell DeSilva, & Zane Havens

Part 2 – Kawika Crivello, Lamona Shintani, Wayne Washburn, Kaipo Kīʻaha

Part 3 – Jackie Meggs, Snake Ah Hee, Keala Kai, Kālepa Baybayan

Help fund the Voyage as we sail the East Coast

Hōkūle‘a’s visit to the eastern United States is a historic milestone in her 40 years of voyaging.

Celebrate with us by pledging your support to the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage.

Manaiakalani: The Hook from Heaven

Maui, the pan-Polynesian demigod, has caused wonder and awe for generations of Polynesian families. Hearthside stories of Maui and the amazing feats he accomplished with his great fishhook Manaiakalani has long captivated our imaginations. Manaiakalani: The Hook from The Heaven is the story of how our ancestor’s ingenuity in merging ancient wisdom and new technology continues to inspire us in contemporary times. It is the story of Pt. England School in Auckland, New Zealand, and the entire Manaiakalani School Cluster, who draw from the genius of storied navigator Maui-Tikitiki-A-Taranga to provide a cutting edge educational experience to disenfranchised communities. Their inspiring story draws the attention of Hōkūleʻaʻs Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage, making for a historic and memorable encounter and celebration of indigenous culture and excellence.

Help fund the Voyage as we sail the East Coast

Hōkūle‘a’s visit to the eastern United States is a historic milestone in her 40 years of voyaging.

Celebrate with us by pledging your support to the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage.

Worldwide Voyage | Honoring Lacy’s Legacy

After traveling to more than one hundred ports around the world, one of Hōkūleʻa’s first stops back in the United States was Florida to honor one of Hawaiʻi’s greatest explorers, Lacy Veach.

“The reason why we’re here is because of the inspiration of space and an amazing astronaut from Hawaiʻi,”says Nainoa Thompson, who is pwo navigator on Hōkūleʻa. “Lt. Colonel Lacy Veach, Hawaiʻiʻs second astronaut. The country needs to know that Lacy was the one that planted the idea as a seed to us in 1992 to take Hōkūleʻa around the world. So that’s foundational for us, Florida becomes foundational for for us.”

“It took us 22 years from the idea to actually leave, to get prepared, to build up the courage to do something as dangerous as what we’re doing. But I promised him I would go,” Thompson continues. “Coming to NASA for me has been an amazing celebration and humbly was the most important two days of this voyage for me, knowing that I kept a promise.”

The Hōkūleʻa crew was greeted by Lacy’s family in Florida’s Cape Canaveral where a ceremony was held in remembrance of his life’s mission especially as it relates to his connection and contribution to the waʻa.

Lacy’s Veach’s beloved wife, Alice Veach, found peace in this reunion as she felt Lacy’s presence. “When Lacy passed, I used to say, I need a sign. I need to know that you’re okay and I never got a sign until today and I really feel his spirit here with all of us.”

“Lacy would always go back to, ‘You have no idea how beautiful island earth is until you see the whole thing’.” Says Thompson. “How can you take care of something that you don’t understand right, Hōkūleʻa needs to know the earth, the earth needs to know Hōkūleʻa. He said, ‘Hawaiʻi needs to become the laboratory and the school to help us relearn how to live well on islands and that would be Hawaiʻi’s gift to the earth, it would be about peace.’ So that was the seed that he planted in our heads about responsibility.”

“Nainoa and Lacy shared such a unique friendship, they truly were soul mates and to be around them you could actually see this innate wisdom that they had and just what they thought the world could be a much better place,” reminisced Veach.

A friendship with a shared lifelong mission that Thompson recalls launched with a voyage back in 1992.

“We had a training sail, it was a Sunday morning and at 6:30 in the morning the Governor’s office calls and says, ‘Lieutenant Colonel Lacy Veach wants to sail with you today.’ Yikes! And so I told him, ‘Eh, tell him to come down at 9:00 a.m.’ and he comes driving down to pier 41, Lacy gets out of the car, ripped shorts, no shirt, no slippers, comes on the canoe! And I’ll never forget this. He rubbed the wood on Hōkūleʻa, on the rail with his hand and he goes, verbatim: ‘To all of you, thank you very very much, thank you so much for letting me come and sail on Hōkūleʻa today, cause today I’ll understand the definition of exploration’.”

From there they’ve seen the world through their own eyes, Nainoa as a captain leading explorations over the immense ocean and Lacy through unbounded space, yet their appreciation for home is what kept bringing them back together.

“By chance, by total chance we were coming back from Rarotonga on an average of about four knots, and by chance, he was in Columbia in 92,” says Thompson. “So he conjured up this plan with the Education department at NASA and hooked up a radio contact between the shuttle and Hōkūleʻa and so we talked about the comparisons between the past explorations and the future explorations.”

Thompson continues, “And then Lacy on that flight saw from the shuttle, says: ‘Nainoa, I have a present for you!’ So he he takes this stone, cropped the windows at the edge of the earth, Island of Hawaiʻi, the little red spot is Maunakea where the powerful telescopes live. Hawaiians would live up there to build adze, these adze were used to build voyaging canoes. That was the tool. That was the technology.”

“So he takes this adze up there and floats it in the window, ‘Here Nainoa, here’s a present’, he talks about three things: the power of remembering, the power of ancestral knowledge coupling with good science and technology, good science and technology and taking care of home. Lacy is our navigator on this voyage and for that, this is the most important two days for me. I’m not talking about a captain on the hill. I’m talking about from a personal point of view, from a best friend.”

“And it goes back to exactly what we want to do that Lacy would do to inspire children to find the way to the solutions that our generation couldn’t figure out. Give them the vehicles. Give them the tools.They need to be the navigators, they need to be the captain, they don’t need to be the bystanders of a changing world to somebody else’s vision. Our children need to be grounded in who they are and proud of who they are to be able to be willing to take on challenges like an education but at the same time, they need to couple that we need to couple that with science and technology, the things that will engineer our future and to make a better world.”

“The canoe, to me, it is a way of encouraging adults and youth alike to follow their dreams and to take care of this precious earth and to teach them ways in which they can take care of it because individually we can do it and together we can do more,” says Veach.

Help fund the Voyage as we sail the East Coast

Hōkūle‘a’s visit to the eastern United States is a historic milestone in her 40 years of voyaging.

Celebrate with us by pledging your support to the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage.

Hōkūleʻa Update | October 5, 2016

Mahalo to Andy Day, originally from Maine, for driving from his current home in New Jersey on his birthday to see Hōkūleʻa in Haverstraw, New York. He has been a friend of one of the original voyagers since 1976, Dr. Ben Young.  He shared with us some of the mementos that Ben gave him.  Nakua, whose great grandfather was on the 1976 voyage, felt especially blessed to make a connection in a place like Haverstraw! Mahalo again, Andy, and everyone else who came out to see us at Haverstraw Marina.

Help fund the Voyage as we sail the East Coast

Hōkūle‘a’s visit to the eastern United States is a historic milestone in her 40 years of voyaging.

Celebrate with us by pledging your support to the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage.