Polynesian Voyaging Society

About the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS)

The Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) was founded in 1973 to carry out an experiment that would help answer some questions: how did the Polynesians settle the far-flung islands of the mid-Pacific – by accident or by design? Did their canoes and their knowledge of navigation enable them to sail purposefully over the vast sea distances between Pacific islands?

PVS began with the building of a replica of a Hawaiian voyaging canoe, Hōkūle‘a, launched in 1975, to explore the seafaring heritage and the voyaging routes of our ancestors.

Hōkūle‘a. Photo by Monte Costa

Since its first voyage to Tahiti in 1976, PVS has journeyed across the islands of Hawai’i, from Cape Kumukahi and Ka Lae on the Big Island to Papahānaumokuākea; to the far corners of Polynesia (Aotearoa and Rapanui); from Vancouver south to San Diego and north to Alaska; and through Micronesia to Japan. It has explored the ocean of our ancestors in order to rediscover and perpetuate through practice Hawaiian voyaging traditons and values and to bring together communities throughout the Pacific.

Our Mission

With a legacy of ocean exploration as its foundation, the Polynesian Voyaging Society is commited to undertake voyages of discovery (Holokai); to respect, learn from, and perpetuate through practice our heritage and culture (‘Ike); and to promote learning which integrates voyaging experiences and values into quality education (Ho‘ona‘auao). We are committed to nurturing communities and the leadership therein that values learning and sharing knowledge in order to foster living well on islands.

Our Vision

Hawai‘i, our special island home, is a place where the land and sea are cared, and people and communities are healthy and safe.

Our Guiding Values

Mālama: To care for … Aloha: To love … ‘Imi ‘Ike: To seek knowledge … Lokomaika‘i: To share with each other … Na‘au Pono: To nurture a deep sense of justice … Olakino Maika‘i: To live healthy

Current Project : Worldwide Voyage

The seed for Hōkūle‘a’s World Wide Voyage (WWV) was planted one night after the 1992 voyage to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. While Nainoa Thompson was sailing home on Hōkūle‘a, he had spoke via satellite phone with, Lacy Veach, a NASA astronaut who was orbiting the earth on the space shuttle Columbia. Lacy grew up in Hawai‘i and went to school with Nainoa. Nainoa invited Lacy and two other astronauts to join the Hōkūle‘a crew on the last leg of the 1992 voyage, from Moloka‘i to O‘ahu.

Later, over the Thompson kitchen table, Nainoa’s father, Pinky Thompson, and Lacy shared their visions of Hawai‘i with each other.

Nainoa remembers Lacy’s vision:  “Lacy was asleep, stuck to the wall with Velcro, when another astronaut woke him up.  ‘Come and look out the window. We’re passing over Hawai‘i,’ he said. Lacy looked out the porthole of the shuttle. The sight of the islands took his breath away.” He saw the islands and the planet in one vision – that planet earth was just an island like Hawai‘i, in an ocean of space, and that we needed to take care of them both if the planet was to remain a life-giving home for humanity.

Lacy took a adze stone with him on the space shuttle Columbia in 1992 and photographed it floating in space above the Big Island of Hawai‘i.

Pinky’s vision was from his vantage point of the Hawaiian Islands. Both Pinky and Nainoa shared the assessment that Hawai‘i was heading toward an unsustainable future. That night Pinky said if the knowledge and values that served Hawaiian were truly strong and inspirational, having enabled them to care for Hawai‘i and her seas for nearly 2,000 years through the careful management of natural resources to sustain a large, healthy population, we should go and share the knowledge and values with the world.

From Lacy’s and Pinky’s visions emerged a single vision of sailing Hōkūle‘a around the world – to share her values and practices for caring for our islands and to learn from others what they are doing. Pinky and Lacy wanted Hōkūle‘a to bridge the communities and cultures of caring and bring them together in our effort to navigate toward a sustainable future.

During the 2007 voyage to Micronesia and Japan, the leadership on the canoe witnessed how successful Hōkūle‘a was in crossing cultural boundaries and inspiring people outside of Hawai‘i and Polynesia with hope. They again raised the vision of sailing Hokule‘a around the world to share the canoe with everyone who wanted to find a way to mālama the earth and her people.

The WWV mission is aligned with the responsiblity given to Kalepa Baybayan, “Shorty” Bertelmann, Bruce Blankenfeld, ‘Onohi Paishon, and Nainoa Thompson, the five initiated as Pwo navigators by Mau Piailug during the 2007 voyage to Satawal: the navigators must continue to sail in order to bring home gifts to benefit our islands.

Thus, the foundation for the Worldwide Voyage was established.

Its mission – to search for the knowledge and wisdom to maintain collectively the health of the planet – is in keeping with the values of PVS, including ‘imi ‘ike, to continue to explore, and mālama, to care for our land, sea, and people.

The Polynesian Voyaging Society is a not-for-profit organization with 501(c)(3) status. All writings, photos, graphics, and other material are copyrighted by the Polynesian Voyaging Society, except those that are in the public domain or those used with the permission of the copyright owners. Send inquiries about the Polynesian Voyaging Society to pvshawaii@hawaiiantel.net or to 10 Sand Island Parkway, Honolulu, HI 96819. Phone: (808) 842-1101; FAX: (808) 842-1112. Report errors or send inquiries about the website to dennisk@hawaii.edu.