East Hawaii News

Hawai’i Senate Honors PVS and Inaugural Hōkūle’a Crew

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Hawai’i State Senators recognized the Polynesian Voyaging Society and 12 of the living crew members from the Hōkūle’a maiden voyage to Tahiti in 1976. The recognition took place on Monday at the State Capitol on the Senate floor and was in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the legendary sailing canoe and its birth of the revival of traditional voyaging and wayfinding.

Among the twelve members recognized Monday was Charles Nainoa Thompson. He is the first Hawaiian to practice the art of wayfinding on long distance ocean voyages after voyaging ended in Hawai’i in the 14th century. Thompson now teaches a system of wayfinding that he developed by synthesizing traditional principles of ancient Pacific navigation and modern science.

“Forty years is a long time and it raises the question: ‘Is something like voyaging canoe relevant? Does it still have meaning and value to our society?’” said Nainoa Thompson, pwo navigator, president of PVS, and crewmember of the 1976 maiden voyage. “We are grateful to have our governmental body take the time to celebrate the worldwide voyage, and to me, it shows that Hawai’i is still with us, that the canoe still matters. As the voyage now heads into the Indian Ocean, which is much more dangerous, it gives us the strength to set sail.”

The rest of the 12 crew members honored Monday include Ben Finney, Milton “Shorty” Bertelmann, Richard “Buffalo” Keaulana, John Kruse, William “Billy” Richards, Abraham “Snake” Ah Hee, Francis Kainoa Lee, Kimo Lyman, Gordon Pi’ianai’a, Penny Martin, and Dr. Ben Young.


“This dedicated crew has inspired generations to be proud of their Pacific heritage and to continue to seek inclusive island wisdom of sustainability, responsibility, and mutual respect and caring,” said Senator Gilber Kahele. “Hōkūle’a is more than a voyaging canoe. She represents a design shared by the people of Hawai’i, the Pacific, and the world to perpetuate and protect our most cherished values and places from disappearing.”

During the ceremony, the senate recognized the impact that the Hōkūle’a and the Polynesian Voyaging Society has made on the state of Hawai’i.

In addition, volunteers and employees of the University of Hawai’i Honolulu Community College and its Marine Education and Training Center, as well as members of the PVS who have supported sailing over the past 40 years, were recognized.


Those honored include Cecelia Lindo and Ha’aheo Mansfield, who were among the first staff members at PVS; Bert Kaihe Barber, one of the first volunteers for PVS and Hōkūle’a; Robert Perkins, Director of the Marine Education and Training Center; Laura Thompson, PVS Board Member, wife of Pinky Thompson, and mother of Nainoa Thompson; Clyde Nāmuʻo, CEO of PVS; Dennis Kawaharada, Kapiolani Community College English faculty member and longtime PVS documenter; Neil Hannaha, PVS Board Chair; Marisa Hayase, PVS Communications Director; Lilikalā Kame’eleihiwa and Billy Ornellas, PVS Board Members; and Erika Lacro, Chancellor of Honolulu Community College.

“Hōkūleʻa continues to be Hawai’i’s canoe, a floating classroom for Hawai’i and Island Earth, building on the awareness and understanding generated from her historic launching forty years ago,” said Senator Kahele. “We extend our best wishes for the safety and success in their journey on their Mālama Honua, the Worldwide Voyage.”

Those interested in more information regarding the Polynesian Voyaging Society and the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage can visit the Hōkūleʻa website.


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