Human Journey

A Tahitian Welcome for the Worldwide Voyage

The Worldwide Voyage is connecting many peoples and places with its stunning use of traditional navigation. Marisa Hayase is helping follow the many stories that are unfolding, and here she shares a small entry written by Hōkūle‘a crew member Ana Yawaramai on what the arrival at Tahiti was like.

The Polynesian Voyaging Society Hawaiian canoes Hōkūle‘a and Hikianalia are journeying around the world to learn, create global relationships, and explore how to care for our oceans and Island Earth. Tahiti is the first international stop for crew members in weaving a message of hope through 52 islands and 27 countries.

A Tahitian fireboat sprays an arc of water to announce the arrival of the Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia crews. Alongside the Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia, the Tahitian crews of the Faʻafaite, and Rangi and small boats sail beside the Hawaiian crew members for a cultural welcome back home. (Photo by Danee Hazama)
A Tahitian fire boat sprays an arc of water to announce the arrival of the Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia crews. Alongside the Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia, the Tahitian crews of the Faʻafaite, Rangi and small boats sail beside the Hawaiian crew members for a cultural welcome back home. (Photo by Danee Hazama)

Ana Yarawamai, a crew member aboard the Hōkūleʻa, writes about her first experience pulling into the port of Papeʻete, Tahiti:

“It is truly an unbelievable thing to say that my first trip to Tahiti was aboard the Hōkūleʻa. When I first found out that I had been selected to be a part of this incredible voyage my thoughts would often turn to our arrival and what it would be like. I had no idea what to expect so the stories that I heard from other crew members and my father would play in my head as we made our way day-by-day.

Our last night out on the ocean, the wind died and it seemed to tell us, ‘hold on, enjoy this moment.’ Tahiti’s mountainous peaks grew and the valleys became more prominent as we pulled closer to the island. The beauty of the island amazed me and the excitement steadily built as the reality that we had reached our goal was more and more apparent.

Small motor boats and sailing canoes flew through the water to be the first to welcome us to their island. Warm greetings and congratulations were shouted over to us with smiles as well as brightly colored lei. As we approached the pass into the harbor, canoe paddles were raised in salute to the voyaging canoes and the fire boat sprayed an arc of water to announce our arrival for all to see. The coast was lined with people, waiting in anticipation to see Hōkūleʻa return to her ancestral home and to see the gorgeous sight of all four voyaging canoes sailing together from Rangiroa—the Hōkūleʻa, Hikianalia, Faʻafaite, and Rangi.

With anchors dropped and crew wading in the water, a Tahitian man dressed in traditional clothing and headdress chanted out to us, “Who are you? Why are you here?”

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Although these questions may seem obvious and simply about traditional protocol, I think about how necessary those questions would have been in ancient times.

Today those questions have a deeper answer. We are the next generation carrying the message of Mālama Honua (Care for Our Earth), yet eager and willing to learn from our elders, mentors, and global family. The voyage and Tahiti have taught me much about myself, broadened my horizons, and have graciously given me a larger ohana, or family. I know that this voyage will continue to teach me for a lifetime to come.

Worldwide Voyage crew member Ana Yawaramai on board Hōkūleʻa (Photo by Oiwi TV)
Worldwide Voyage crew member Ana Yawaramai aboard Hōkūleʻa. (Photo by Oiwi TV)

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.

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