East Hawaii News

Hokulea Leaves the Pacific, Journeys to Australia

April 30, 2015, 8:14 AM HST
* Updated April 30, 9:06 AM
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For the first time in its 40-year history, according to the Polynesian Voyaging Society, the Hawaiian voyaging canoe Hokulea and its crew members left the Pacific Ocean after departing from New Zealand on Wednesday.

Bruce Blankenfeld, the canoe’s master navigator, will use traditional Polynesian navigation techniques as they sail to Australia. According to the PVS, the 14 crew members should arrive in Sydney by mid-May.

“Australia is on our sail plan because of its incredible natural and cultural treasures, and our desire to explore a part of the world that is new to us,” said PVS president and master navigator, Nainoa Thompson. “It is a place that we can relate to because of the potential of bringing together diverse sectors to care for our ocean. In Hawai’i, blending indigenous stewardship practices with other best practices can help us find positive ways forward, and we are seeking to learn from similar approaches in Australia so we can share that knowledge with other communities as we continue to voyage around the world.”

The journey to Sydney is part of the 47,000 nautical-mile sail around the world that the Hokulea is on in order to bring attention world-wide to the importance of protecting environmental and cultural treasures for future generations.

Hokulea will visit 85 ports, 26 nations, and 12 of UNESCO’s Marine World Heritage sites during the four-year Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage, sponsored by Hawaiian Airlines.

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Malama Honua means “to care for Island Earth,” and according to PVS, a new generation of navigators are learning to use wayfinding to find more than just islands, but also a sustainable future. Throughout the journey, crewmembers are gathering and sharing information from all ports about positive solutions for environmental challenges, such as ocean pollution, over fishing, climate change, and sea level rise.

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Since the launch of the Worldwide Voyage in 2013, Hokulea has covered 8,000 nautical miles and 24 Pacific Islands.

Upon leaving New Zealand, departure ceremonies guided by ancient Maori and Hawaiian cultural protocols helped to prepare the canoe and crew for safe travels.

In addition, preparation for departure was centered on the government and community-based declaration that Hokulea will take to the United Nations in New York in 2016. As Hokulea traveled through the Pacific, ocean protection declarations were given by the President of Palau, a Chair of the 16-member Pacific island forum, the President of French Polynesia, and the Government of American Samoa. Community-led commitments onboard the voyaging canoe include the Hawai’i Promise to Paeaina and an Indigenous Youth Declaration from the World Indigenous People’s Conference on Education.

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After leaving Sydney, Hokulea will stop at various other Australia locations until late July, when the voyage continues on to Indonesia, Madagascar, and South Africa to round out 2015.

Crew members for the New Zealand to Australia journey include: Bruce Blankenfeld, Bruce Black, Dr. Miriam Chang, Kawika Crivello, Michael Cunningham, Duane DeSoto, Karen Joyce Holman, Kai Hudgins, Suzette Hauʻoli Smith-Gurtler, Craig Swedberg, Maui Tauotaha, Matahi Tutavae, Bert Kaleo Wong, and Ana Yarawamai.

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Hokulea departed from New Zealand on Wednesday, April 29. Photo: Polynesian Voyaging Society.

Hokulea departed from New Zealand on Wednesday, April 29. Photo: Polynesian Voyaging Society.

Hokulea departed from New Zealand on Wednesday, April 29. Photo: Polynesian Voyaging Society.

Hokulea departed from New Zealand on Wednesday, April 29. Photo: Polynesian Voyaging Society.

Hokulea departed from New Zealand on Wednesday, April 29. Photo: Polynesian Voyaging Society.

Hokulea departed from New Zealand on Wednesday, April 29. Photo: Polynesian Voyaging Society.

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