HONOLULU – Traditional Polynesian voyaging canoe Hōkūle’a achieved a new milestone in her voyage around the world this week. Her arrival in Golden Bay, New Zealand marks the furthest into the southern hemisphere Hōkūleʻa has sailed in nearly four decades of voyaging.
“On March 8th, 1975, Hōkūle’a was launched with the vision of one voyage to Tahiti and back,” said Bruce Blankenfeld, Pwo (master) navigator with the Polynesian Voyaging Society. “She has been restored and reenergized through the aloha and good mana of our large voyaging community, young and old, from near and far. In 2015, 40 years later, she continues to afford us the opportunity to explore new horizons.”
Designed to replicate the voyaging routes of her Polynesian ancestors, Hōkūle’a has voyaged extensively throughout the warm waters of the Pacific, beginning with her first voyage to Tahiti in 1976. The current leg of the Worldwide Voyage is an ambitious journey, taking Hōkūle’a far beyond her native waters. The harsh sea and weather conditions along New Zealand’s South Island and beyond will continue to push the boundaries of contemporary Polynesian voyaging as Hōkūleʻa continues around the world.
“South Island is an extraordinary arrival. This is the farthest south we have ever gone to a part of the world that is notoriously rough,” said Nainoa Thompson, Pwo navigator and president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society. “It was accomplished today because of unprecedented collaborations and support, and Captain Kalepa Baybayan’s good planning, training and leadership. Doing a voyage like this that is extensive, exceptional and honors other places on the earth is foundational to our ability to do well as we prepare to depart Polynesia.”
While in South Island, crew had the opportunity to visit and honor the site where a 600-year-old voyaging canoe was recently rediscovered. This connection between Hōkūle’a and her ancient predecessor speaks to Polynesians’ ability to explore the ocean world, proving the strength and vitality of these voyaging vessels.
The Hawaiian name for this journey, Mālama Honua, means “to care for our Island Earth” and is taking Hōkūleʻa and her sister canoe Hikianalia across Earth’s oceans to grow a global movement toward a more sustainable world. The Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage, sponsored by Hawaiian Airlines, will cover 47,000 nautical miles, 85 ports, 26 nations, including 12 of UNESCO’s Marine World Heritage sites, through June 2017.