Wayfinding: Reflection on First 20 Years of Hokule’a

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The wayfinding talk “Voices from the Wa’a: Reflection on the Frist 20 Years of the Hokule’a” will be presented at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center on Friday, April 24 at 7 p.m.

Gordon Pi’ianai’a will be featured in Friday evening’s program. Pi’ianai’a was the captain of the Hokule’a on its 1980 voyage. He, along with Nainoa Thompson and others, became the first Hawaiians in centuries to locate Tahiti without using modern navigational tools.

During the presentation, Pi’ianai’a will recount 20 years of sailing and voyaging on the Hokule’a. In 1976, he served as first mate on the voyage from Tahiti to Hawai’i, and in 1980 and 1985, he served as Captain.

As one of the early pioneering leaders in the early Polynesian Voyaging Society days, Pi’ianai’a serves as both co-chair of the Education Committee and as a board member. Today, he continues to work to perpetuate and revitalize the art of wayfinding and navigation through his involvement with ‘Ohana Wa’a, a consortium of Hawai’i’s voyaging organizations, canoe leadership, and crews.


Pi’ianai’a is a retired U.S. Naval Reserve Officer, educator, and community leader. Originally from Honolulu, he was born to a family or mariners and geographers. When he was five-years-old, his father, Abraham, who was a master mariner,111 introduced him to the sea. Pi’ianai’a would travel inter-island sailing on ships. His brother Norman is a graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy, He retired from the position of senior ship’s master at Matson Navigation.

After graduating from Kamehameha School for Boys, Pi’ianai’a studied Nautical Science at the California Maritime Academy and received his Bachelors of Science degree. He later completed graduate studies in Geography at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa.

Everyone in the Pi’ianai’a family has participated in Hokule’a’s voyages.


Tickets cost $8 for members (member level discounts apply) and $10 for non-members. You can purchase tickets ahead of time at the ‘Imiloa front desk or by calling 969-9703.

Wayfinding programs at ‘Imiloa are possible through a title sponsorship from Matson.

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