Changing Planet

Hōkūleʻa: The Journey Begins

A fleet of paddling canoes escorts Hōkūleʻa out of Honolulu. (Photo by Janet L. Clark)

After months of anticipation and years of preparation, the Polynesian Voyaging Society and its two canoes, Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia, finally set off from their home on O’ahu this past weekend on their voyage around the world! As the crew made final preparations for the departure, people from communities in Hawai’i and around the world came to see the sister canoes one more time.

Hōkūleʻa holds a particularly special place in the hearts of so many because of her role in the rejuvenation of Hawaiian culture and voyaging tradition. As is stated by the Polynesian Voyaging Society: “[Hōkūleʻa] is more than a voyaging canoe—she represents the common desire shared by the people of Hawai’i, the Pacific, and the World to protect our most cherished values and places from disappearing.”

Photo by Daniel Lin
This is what we’re sailing for. (Photo by Daniel Lin)

Ever since her maiden voyage to Tahiti (completely unaided by navigational instruments) in 1976, Hōkūleʻa has served as a symbol for Hawaiians and indigenous cultures everywhere, proving that traditional knowledge and values can and should exist in the modern era. What Hōkūleʻa did, and continues to do, for the Hawaiian community—instilling pride, bringing joy, teaching gratefulness—cannot be described in words. It can only be felt in the smiles, tears, songs, dances, and chants that arise every time people interact with the canoe. It can be felt in the stories of the kupuna, or elders, and in the eyes of the keiki, or children, as they see Hōkūleʻa in all her glory.

Photo by Daniel Lin
A view of the crowd gathered to send Hōkūleʻa off on her journey. (Photo by Daniel Lin)
The Ocean Elders:  Jackson Browne, Nainoa Thompson, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Don Walsh, Sylvia Earl.  (Photo by Daniel Lin)
The Ocean Elders: Jackson Browne, Nainoa Thompson (PVS President), Jean-Michel Cousteau, Don Walsh, Sylvia Earl. (Photo by Daniel Lin)
A delegation from Aotearoa (New Zealand) came to visit the canoes. From Left: Tania Loughlin, Te Hurirangi Waikerepuru, Te Urutani Waikerepuru, Kā Daniels, Mere Broughton, Te Ngaruru Wineera. (Photo by Daniel Lin)
A delegation from Aotearoa (New Zealand) came to visit the canoes. From Left: Tania Loughlin, Te Hurirangi Waikerepuru, Te Urutani Waikerepuru, Kā Daniels, Mere Broughton, Te Ngaruru Wineera. (Photo by Daniel Lin)

As the two canoes set sail for Tahiti this time, almost 40 years later, there is a similar sense of purpose and conviction. Since this will be the first international leg of the Worldwide Voyage, there is an emphasis on reconnecting with the journeys and voyaging traditions of the past. As such, the themes of “navigating to Tahiti” and “strengthening Polynesian cultural heritage” are very much ingrained in this voyage. Thus, the crew of the the Hawai’i-Tahiti leg all understand how important their roles are, as global ambassadors for Hawai’i and for the renowned Polynesian Voyaging Society.

Photo by Daniel Lin
Watch captain, Kealoha, and navigator, Tua Pittman, get ready for the Pohaku Ceremony, an important part of the departure. (Photo by Daniel Lin)
Photo by Daniel Lin
Crewmember Kaleo Wong does a few final checks before the launch. (Photo by Daniel Lin)

As Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia make their grand re-emergence onto the international stage, it will be this particular segment that will set the bar for all the ones that follow. For those of us who have been connected to this voyage in some way—both on and off the canoes—there is a collective sense that this will be one of the truly impactful and defining experiences in our lifetimes.

So the lines are cast, the crew is ready, and the two voyaging canoes are off to do what they were made to do: connect, teach, inspire, and of course, sail.

A hui hou!  (Photo by Daniel Lin)
A hui hou! (Photo by Daniel Lin)

Click here to watch a video of the departure from Oahu.

Learn More
Polynesian Voyaging Society and the Worldwide Voyage
Read All Worldwide Voyage Posts

Dan is on a life-long journey to discover what it truly means to be a citizen of the world. Along the way, he is seeking the advice of elders, the wisdom of children, and the stories of anyone willing to share. With a focus on photojournalism and travel, it is Dan’s firm belief that telling stories through photos is one of the most powerful ways to get people to care about the world and all of its inhabitants.Dan first started taking photos while living in the outer islands of American Samoa as a way to share experiences. Over time, the more he traveled and listened to stories of place, the more he came to understand what his role as a photographer needed to be. Today, Dan travels extensively throughout the Pacific Islands and Asia working on issues pertaining to climate change, culture, and youth. He hopes to bring about awareness on these critical issues and, with any luck, help to raise the collective social consciousness of the general public.Dan is a regular contributor to National Geographic and the Associated Press as well as a crewmember for the Polynesian Voyaging Society, a Fellow of The Explorers Club, and a member of the IUCN Specialist Group on Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas. He is also a brand ambassador for Maui Jim and Waiola Coconut Water.Contact: danlinphotography@gmail.com
  • Fred Paul Ho’olae Wandke

    Great story Daniel Lin.

  • Fred Paul Ho’olae Wandke

    Great story Daniel Lin.

  • Tracy

    Life is a journey. It may be short but needs to be wonderful!

  • Tracy

    Life is a journey. It may be short but needs to be wonderful!

  • susan schafer

    WOW! The adventure begins!

  • susan schafer

    WOW! The adventure begins!

  • Jean goonesinghe

    The spirit of adventure lives in you all. May all the spirits keep you safe. Aloha.

  • Jean goonesinghe

    The spirit of adventure lives in you all. May all the spirits keep you safe. Aloha.

  • PADRAIG

    Safe Voyage.!

  • PADRAIG

    Safe Voyage.!

  • Chris

    Awesome!

  • Chris

    Awesome!

  • Shirl Scott

    I met her once in Molokai at the Wharf. Talked with crew and my partner Margie Will who was raised on Molokai. Sweet memories.

  • Shirl Scott

    I met her once in Molokai at the Wharf. Talked with crew and my partner Margie Will who was raised on Molokai. Sweet memories.

  • HistoryWatcher

    This is truly fantastic, exciting & monumental. Wishing crew & canoe safe voyage.

  • HistoryWatcher

    This is truly fantastic, exciting & monumental. Wishing crew & canoe safe voyage.

  • Lorenzo Sartilug

    Bon voyage and smooth sailing!

  • Lorenzo Sartilug

    Bon voyage and smooth sailing!

  • Terry

    Safe travels on this awesome historic voyage.

  • Terry

    Safe travels on this awesome historic voyage.

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