Volcano Art Center Showing Traditional Polynesian Voyaging Film

June 18, 2017, 10:03 AM HST (Updated June 17, 2017, 10:13 AM)

Hokulea sailing off Diamond Head. Photo by Sam Low, courtesy of Volcano Art Center.

Polynesian voyagers explored and settled the Pacific Ocean a thousand years before Europeans knew it existed. But where did they come from and how did they navigate the world’s largest ocean and populate one third of Earth’s surface?

Learn the answer to these questions and more at the Volcano Art Center’s (VAC) film screening of ˆThe Navigators – Pathfinders of the Pacific” on Thursday, June 22, from 7 to 9 p.m. at VAC’s Niaulani Campus.

The film explores the history of Polynesian voyagers who set out into the vast Pacific Ocean from islands in Southeast Asia. Carried only by winds and currents, and guided by the stars and natural signs, these intrepid people navigated sophisticated sailing crafts over long distances without compasses or maps.

Filmmaker and anthropologist Sam Low traveled across the Pacific to capture the imagery in the film. In the Society Islands of Huahine, he filmed the excavation of the ancient remains of a seafaring canoe. In Fiji, he teamed up with archeologist Roger Green and discovered pottery that illustrated the travel routes taken by the first Polynesians from islands off the coast of New Guinea.

“But the most interesting place I filmed,” Low said, “was on the tiny island of Satawal, in Micronesia.” Here, people are still practicing traditional celestial navigation techniques, similar to those used by Polynesians.

Low’s film also features the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s Hōkūleʻa canoe, a replica of the craft ancient Polynesians once used. The Hōkūleʻa has sailed 140,000 miles throughout the Pacific following the ancient voyaging routes of Polynesian ancestors.

Low will be present during the showing at VAC to answer questions and sign copies of his new book, “Hawaiki Rising – Hōkūleʻa, Nainoa Thompson and the Hawaiian Renaissance.” DVD copies of the film will be available for purchase. The show is free to attend. A $5 donation is appreciated


Lanikai Brewing Co. will also be at the event with samples of its Kahiki Ale for purchase. The limited edition beer was made to celebrate Hōkūleʻa’s homecoming and is brewed using six Polynesian Heritage plants: ko (sugar cane), ki (ti), kalo (taro), nui (coconut), olena (turmeric) and ulu (breadfruit).

The Volcano Art Center’s Niaulani Campus is located at 19-4074 Old Volcano Road in Volcano Village. For more information, call (808) 967-8222 or visit



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