When we look at Hawai‘i today, we see a place steeped in tradition. Yet it wasn’t always that way. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1970s that Hawaiians realized they needed to do something about their fading traditions and cultural identity if they weren’t to lose some of it forever. In 1975, the Polynesian Voyaging Society built a replica of an ancient Polynesian voyaging canoe that would adopt the navigational tradition of non-instrument wayfinding. This canoe was named Hōkūle‘a -- the iconic canoe many of us are familiar with today.
Hōkūle‘a marked a significant stage of what became known as the Hawaiian Renaissance -- a time when there was renewed pride in being Hawaiian, in its language, and its traditions. In fact, once Hawaiians saw how smart their ancestors were, navigating their way through the Pacific with nothing but guides from nature to help them chart their course, it made them realize how much they were capable of.
Hōkūle‘a’s influence has only grown. From its inaugural sail to Tahiti in 1976 as part of the Bicentenniel Celebration of American Independence, to the team of young navigators (such as Kaleo Wong, Haunani Kane, and Jason Patterson) carving out their own paths on the canoe today, it changed the way many Hawaiians look at their culture forever. In many ways, Hōkūle‘a is a microcosm of life on shore, and there is a Hawaiian proverb that says “He waʻa he moku, he moku he waʻa,” meaning, “The canoe is an island, the island is a canoe.” Whether it comes down to taking care of the limited resources on board, or putting the needs of the crew over individual needs, there is a lot to be learned from life on board Hōkūle‘a that translates to the wider world. Nainoa Thompson of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, once said that “The reception to the canoe is not so much just Hōkūle‘a but the ideas about exploration, the need to unify, and that common vision and shared values are important for the Earth.”*
Today, Hawai‘i is a place that celebrates its culture and is proud to share its achievements with the outside world. Hōkūle‘a continues to play a role in that development, which is why we love to share its stories.
To find out more about Hōkūle‘a or to follow the canoe’s travels, check out http://www.hokulea.com
* Taken from an interview with Khon2 in 2014