Hokule‘a voyage will honor navigator
The crew plans a stop in Micronesia during a trip next year to recognize Mau Piailug
WAILUKU » The crew of the double-hulled canoe Hokule'a plans to sail to Micronesia and Japan starting in January with a stop at Satawal Island to honor renowned navigator Mau Piailug.
The group plans to hold a news conference Monday morning on Oahu to announce details of the voyage.
Piailug, navigator of the Hokule'a's first Hawaii-Tahiti voyage in 1976, has been instrumental in renewing traditional Pacific way-finding in navigation to a generation of native Hawaiians.
Ben Finney, a founder of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, said 30 years ago, Hawaiian culture had lost the art of Pacific way-finding, and Piailug was selected as the best navigator for the task of sailing to Tahiti.
"It was an opportunity for Polynesians to learn from an elder from a sister civilization," Finney said.
The Hokule'a plans to leave Hawaii on Jan. 6 and sail southwest to Majuro in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, then travel west near the equator to islands in the Federated States of Micronesia with stops at Ponape, Truk, Satawal and Yap, and then onward to the Republic of Palau.
The Micronesian leg of the trip is expected to span about 4,370 miles.
While on Satawal about Feb. 23, a voyaging canoe will be presented as a gift to Piailug.
The 56-foot-long voyaging canoe Maisu was built at Kawaihae Harbor on the Big Island by the nonprofit Hawaiian cultural group Na Kalai Wa'a Moku o Hawaii, under the leadership of the late navigator Clay Bertelmann and his brother Shorty, two students of Piailug.
The Japan voyage totaling 2,675 miles will include a trip to Yokohama Bay, where the late Hawaiian King David Kalakaua opened the doors for immigration to Hawaii.
The success of the 1976 Hawaii-Tahiti sail supported the assertion that by using traditional way-finding methods, Pacific islanders could travel thousands of miles to distant shores centuries before Westerners had developed modern navigational instruments to make accurate long-distance voyages.
Other Hokule'a voyages have followed, including trips to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and Aotearoa (New Zealand).
Finney said he met Piailug in 1973 and explained that the Polynesian Voyaging Society was planning a trip from Hawaii to Tahiti because the group feared that the art of Pacific way-finding was being lost.
"Piailug was all ears," recalled Finney. "He said, 'I'm afraid it's going to happen on my island.'"
The Hokule'a now hopes to honor Piailug, who helped save that art.