Hawai'i State News

Matson returns Hōkūleʻa home to Hawai‘i

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Matson’s container ship Mahimahi delivered the Hōkūleʻa home to Hawai‘i. Photo Courtesy: PVS

Matson’s container ship Mahimahi arrived in Honolulu from Long Beach Wednesday at approximately 5 p.m., carrying some precious cargo: the legendary Hōkūleʻa.

The voyaging canoe was unloaded onto the water at Honolulu Harbor Thursday morning at 8 a.m. and received by Hōkūleʻa crew members who arrived on an escort boat to tow the canoe back to her home at the Marine Education Training Center at Sand Island. They arrived at the Marine Education Training Center dock at 8:30 a.m.

Hōkūleʻa left Hawai‘i in April of this year when it was transported courtesy of Matson to Tacoma, Washington before heading to Alaska for the Alaska Heritage Sail then the launch of the Moananuiākea Voyage. Since then, the canoe has traveled 2,800 miles, stopping in 45 ports for engagements with communities from Alaska to San Diego.  


The Polynesian Voyaging Society announced in September that it was making this major change to the Moananuiākea Voyage sail plan and that Hōkūleʻa would be returning home in December due to the devastating fires on Maui and the desire to bring Hōkūleʻa home at a time when her home is hurting.

Another contributing factor was the earthʻs unprecedented weather patterns including the current El Nino phenomenon, a period of unusually warm water in the Pacific Ocean, which has global impact. The Polynesian Voyaging Society has been evaluating climate and weather data over the last nine months. The intention was to sail Hōkūleʻa home, but recently released data shows El Nino strengthening even further.  

While Hōkūleʻa is in Hawaiʻi, the Polynesian Voyaging Society will focus on training, education and planning until the Moananuiākea Voyage’s circumnavigation of the Pacific continues at a time that is yet to be determined. 


According to Polynesian Voyaging Society CEO Nainoa Thompson, there were many great accomplishments made on the legs through Alaska, Canada and down the West Coast of the United States. The canoe and crews engaged with dozens of indigenous and Native Hawaiian communities, and connected with partners to amplify the importance of caring for the earth and its oceans. Voyage milestones included crossing the Gulf of Alaska, sailing through straits and narrows, and reaching Hubbard Glacier, the farthest North Hōkūleʻa has ever been, which is two-thirds of the way to the North Pole. Also during the last six months, several crew members completed the final phase of training and became captains to take deep-sea command during the Moananuiākea Voyage.  

Matson is a Pō Mahina Poepoe Sponsor of the Moananuiākea Voyage, donating the shipping of Hōkūleʻa and her escort boat Kōlea from Honolulu to Tacoma back in April and now the the shipping of the canoe from Long Beach back to Honolulu.

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