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Planning a visit to Kauai? We regularly add news and information about events, activities, and places to see on The Garden Isle.

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Sheila Heathcote has lived in Hawaii since 1986. She's a published author on the topic of Kauai and the owner of Hale O Nanakai Bed & Breakfast.

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"Te Mana O Te Mauna" historic Voyaging Canoes visit Kauai

 “The Spirit of the Sea” crew arrived in Hanalei Bay on Wednesday, July 5th in seven double-hulled voyaging canoes from a large smattering of South Pacific locations.  They are voyaging throughout the Pacific Ocean using only the stars, the ocean, and the surrounding wildlife to navigate. 

Each canoe sailed with 16 crew members. Chiefs and crew members  on board the seven canoes arrived  in Hanalei Bay from Tahiti, New Zealand, Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, Tahiti, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. They brought with them one important one message:

 “We are all family in the vast ocean of the Pacific.”

“Sailing together, we seek the wisdom of our ancestors and the knowledge of scientists to keep the Pacific healthy and give our grandchildren a future,” explained one voyager about the purpose of the voyage.  The purpose is to bring awareness to the plight of the ocean, and to renew each crew member’s ties to the sea and its life-sustaining strength. “This voyage represents a sustainable way of living and a respectful treatment of the ocean,” he added.  

This is the first time that these island nations have sailed in unison; an epic journey of thousands of miles.

Te Mana O Te Moana pays homage to ancient voyagers and their modern counterparts.

Following in the salty wake of their ancestors, the canoes are part of a resurgence of Polynesian culture initiated by the voyages of the original Hōkūlea.

 Hōkūle‘a is a performance-accurate full-scale replica of a Polynesian double-hulled voyaging canoe which was initially launched on  March  8, 1975 by thePolynesian Voyaging Society. 

Hōkūle‘a gained fame in 1976 by sailing to Tahiti with only Polynesian navigation techniques, essentially without modern navigational instruments.

The goal of the voyage was to support the anthropological theory of the Asiatic origin of native Oceanic people of Polynesia and Hawaii in particular, as the result of purposeful trips through the Pacific, as opposed to passive drifting on currents, or sailing from the Americas.

 A secondary goal of the project was to have the canoe and voyage "serve as vehicles for the cultural revitalization of Hawaiians and other Polynesians."

Since the 1976 voyage to Tahiti and back, Hōkūle‘a has completed nine more voyages to destinations in Micronesia, Polynesia, Japan, Canada, and the United States, all using ancient way finding techniques of celestial navigation 

 Her last completed voyage began 19 January 2007, when Hōkūle‘a left Hawaii with the voyaging canoe Alingano Maisu on a voyage through Micronesia and ports in southern Japan. The voyage was expected to take five months. On 9 June 2007 Hōkūle‘a completed the "One Ocean, One People" voyage to Yokohama, Japan.

On April 5, 2009, Hōkūle‘a returned to Honolulu following a roundtrip training sail to Palmyra Atoll, undertaken to develop skills of potential crewmembers for Hōkūle‘a's eventual circumnavigation, currently planned to commence in 2012.

Story by Sheila Heathcote                                                                     Photos by Ronald Adams