Hōkūleʻa Welcomes the United Nations Secretary-General

Master navigator Nainoa Thompson welcomes United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and specialist Dr. Sylvia Earle of Mission Blue, aboard Hōkūleʻa. (Photo by ʻOiwi TV)

The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and President of Republic of Palau, Tommy E. Remengesau Jr., sailed aboard Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia in Apia Harbor, Samoa on Monday. They joined Worldwide Voyage crew and specialists Dr. Sylvia Earle of Mission Blue, artist Wyland, and Greg Stone of Conservation International.

Hōkūle’a, our voyaging canoe, threads together stories of hope as she voyages across the world’s oceans. We are inspired that His Excellency Ban Ki-moon and heads of state for our island nations are coming together on Hōkūle’a’s deck around shared values of preserving and protecting our oceans,” said Nainoa Thompson, president and master navigator of Polynesian Voyaging Society.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (Photo by ʻOiwi TV)
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. (Photo by ʻOiwi TV)

His Excellency Ban Ki-moon presented Thompson and the crew of the Worldwide Voyage with a handwritten message in a bottle that he asked them to carry with them as they circle the globe. The message stated, “I am honored to be a part of Hōkūle’a’s Worldwide Voyage. I am inspired by its global mission. As you tour the globe, I will work and rally more leaders to our common cause of ushering in a more sustainable future, and a life of dignity for all.”

Today’s sail represents the theme of the Worldwide Voyage, Mālama Honua, or “Care for our Island Earth.” The ongoing United Nations Small Island Developing States conference focuses on island nations that are particularly vulnerable to climate change and the challenges that face our oceans.

“People often say we are in the same boat,” Ban Ki-moon said during the conference,” I would say we are all on the same small island on the same small planet Earth; this is like a small boat in the universe.”

On the same afternoon of the UN Secretary General sail, Polynesian Voyaging Society leaders at home in Hawaiʻi took part in a Pillars of Peace dialogue about climate change hosted by the Hawaii Community Foundation. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a panelist at the event and a former guest aboard Hōkūleʻa, emphasized to participants, “We have just one planet home. This is an issue of whether we want to survive as a species or not.”

“Hōkūle’a and Hikianalia are taking a positive message around the globe about the need to care for each other, our oceans, and earth at a critical time in history,” said Polynesian Voyaging Society Chairman, Neil Hannahs. “Their dedicated crew at sea and on land are asserting that traditional island cultures have a great deal of wisdom about how to care for each other and our limited resources.”

Hōkūleʻa and her crew are voyaging for a sustainable future.
Hōkūleʻa and her crew are voyaging for a sustainable future. (Photo by ʻOiwi TV)

After the Samoa conference, Hōkūle’a and her sister canoe Hikianalia continue their sail across Earth’s oceans to grow the global movement toward a more sustainable world. The Worldwide Voyage, sponsored by Hawaiian Airlines, will cover 47,000 nautical miles, 85 ports and 26 countries, including 12 of UNESCO’s Marine World Heritage sites, through June 2017.

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Meet the Author
Communications Assistant at the Polynesian Voyaging Society, Todd Yamashita is a fourth generation resident of Molokai where he is owner of the island's only newspaper. Complimenting his background in press and media, Yamashita also has training and experience in graphic design and identity branding; and in political campaigning and policy development.