Human Journey

Worldwide Voyage Photos From Tautira: One Ocean, One Family

The Worldwide Voyage is about more than just traditional knowledge or sailing the Pacific in canoes. Through this voyage, many peoples are connected, and awareness for the Earth’s incredible oceans is brought into sharp focus.

Ever since the maiden voyage of Hōkūle’a in 1976, the village of Tautira on the northeastern shore of Tahiti has been Hōkūle’a’s second home. “The people of Tahiti gave us a great gift when we made that first landfall,” says navigator Nainoa Thompson. “They told us that we are family and to be proud of who we are as Pacific people.”

Thousands of years ago, Hawai’i was likely first settled by Polynesians that sailed from Tahiti to the new island homeland of Hawai’i. As Pacific Island “cousins”, they share a similar language, the same names for sacred places, and similar cultures—navigating by the stars, waves, and other traditional means core to the origins of both Tahitians and Hawaiians. The Tahitian and Hawaiian ohana, or family, continues to grow stronger because of the ocean, which connects rather than divides them. Hokulea has, for four decades, been the new cultural bridge between these islands 2,500 miles apart.

Read More by Marisa Hayase

Marisa Hayase works with the Polynesian Voyaging Society to support Hōkūleʻa’s journey around the world. While sailing 47,000 nautical miles, Hōkūle’a and her sister canoe Hikianalia work to string together a “lei” of stories–big and small–that bring people together and inspire a new pathway forward for the health of our oceans and planet.

The Polynesian Voyaging Society preserves and strengthens the traditions, values and knowledge behind one of the greatest feats in human history. Thousands of years ago, Polynesians found and settled islands scattered over 10 million square miles of ocean, exploring unchartered waters and using only the stars, waves, and marine birds and animals to guide them. Hōkūle’a was built 600 years after the last of the Hawaiian sailing canoes had disappeared from sight but not memory. Hōkūle’a brought traditional Pacific exploration back to life and helped spark a revival of Hawaiian language, culture and knowledge. She is more than a voyaging canoe—she represents the hope shared by people of Hawai’i, the Pacific, and the world that we can protect our most cherished values and places from disappearance.

Marisa has worked with nonprofit and government organizations nationally and internationally, conducting research in South America, Japan, México, and Europe. She graduated from Williams College with a B.A. and has a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Harvard University. A resident of Kailua, Hawaiʻi, Marisa is happiest when learning new things, building community, and spending time outdoors with her husband, son, and daughter.

  • David W. Henley

    The best companion for this growing story is “Hawaiiki Rising”, by Sam Low. A not-to-be-missed book.

  • David W. Henley

    The best companion for this growing story is “Hawaiiki Rising”, by Sam Low. A not-to-be-missed book.

About the Blog

Researchers, conservationists, and others share stories, insights and ideas about Our Changing Planet, Wildlife & Wild Spaces, and The Human Journey. More than 50,000 comments have been added to 10,000 posts. Explore the list alongside to dive deeper into some of the most popular categories of the National Geographic Society’s conversation platform Voices.

Opinions are those of the blogger and/or the blogger’s organization, and not necessarily those of the National Geographic Society. Posters of blogs and comments are required to observe National Geographic’s community rules and other terms of service.

Voices director: David Braun (dbraun@ngs.org)

Social Media