Ancient Polynesian Canoe Journey Returns to Hawaii

June 19, 2017 Updated: June 19, 2017

The Hokule’a canoe, modeled after the traditional vessels of ancient Polynesians, made it home to Hawaii to a crowd of thousands cheering their return. This culminated a three-year voyage around the world where only ancient navigation methods were used.

During its three-year trek, Hokule’a made stops in Panama, Brazil, the Galapagos Islands, Australia, the Caribbean, Bali, South Africa, Mauritius, and Samoa.

The crew looked to the stars, ocean waves, and birds to guide them just as the sailors who first settled in Hawaii did.

Hokule’a, which means “Star of Gladness,”  is modeled after the double-hulled sailing canoe used by the ancient Polynesians.

Thousands of people, including some wearing native Hawaiian loincloths called “malos,” cheered as the Hokule’a arrived.

Nainoa Thompson, president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, who spoke at the homecoming event to welcome home the voyagers, thanked the community for their support, and for the celebration of their traditional culture.

“Thank you Hawaii. Thank you for the moment,” said Thompson.

The Hokule’a set out on its maiden voyage to Tahiti in 1976, with the goal of connecting the people of the Pacific islands to their cultural heritage by reviving the ancient traditions of polynesian navigation and sailing.

According to their website, at the time when Hokule’a first began sailing, “cultural extinction felt dangerously close to many Hawaiians,” and they had to find a traditional navigator from micronesia to teach them, since there was no navigator from Hawaii left.

Over the years, that community has grown, and today The Polynesian Voyaging Society has expanded its mission to “care for our Earth,” and “to protect cultural and environmental resources for our children’s future.”

To learn more about the Hokule’a’s trip, you can visit their website here.