Tragedy: The Loss of a Legend
In 1978 Hōkūle‘a set out for Tahiti again. The heavily loaded canoe capsized in stormy seas off of Moloka‘i. The next day, crew member Eddie Aikau (pictured below) on a surfboard to get help. Crew member Kiki Hugho remembers, “We were hours away from losing people. Hypothermia, exposure, exhaustion. When he paddled away, I really thought he was going to make it and we weren’t.” But the crew was rescued; Eddie was lost at sea. After the tragedy, Nainoa Thompson recalls, “we could have quit. But Eddie had this dream about finding islands the way our ancestors did and if we quit, he wouldn’t have his dream fulfilled. He was saying to me, ‘Raise Hawaiki from the sea.’”
Read more in this legendary quest by the Polynesian Voyaging Society to re-live and hold on to a significant intangible culture of the Polynesian people.
I have heard about the Hokulea and recently saw a post in LinkedIn by a friend, Rob Bryan which peaked my interest to make a post. Rob had mentioned that Nainoa Thompson, of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and chief of Hokulea, was back in Hawaii after the first leg of Hokulea’s journey around the world this time (2014). Some of you that read my blog may not know about the story of this great canoe.
Polynesians, Melanesians and Micronesians have for many centuries sailed across the Pacific Ocean on journeys for goodwill and cultural exchange. If you make comparisons to the canoes used in the olden days to our time, you may think that it is much easier, but it isn’t. Even with better ships and technology and better information and transportation systems, sailing across the Pacific ocean is dangerous. Many of us ask the question; why do it when it is so dangerous?
For one man, even when lives are at risk the significance of this voyage is very clear. Thompson said, this voyage is not about the canoe itself but the message of peace and love Hokulea brings. Watch his interview in the link below where Thompson speaks about what it is that Hokulea does and how his crew connect and strengthen relationships with many other cultures with a common object – to safeguard the planet.
Founded on a legacy of Pacific Ocean exploration, the Polynesian Voyaging Society seeks to perpetuate the art and science of traditional Polynesian voyaging and the spirit of exploration through experiential educational programs that inspire students and their communities to respect and care for themselves, each other, and their natural and cultural environments. (http://www.hokulea.com/vision-mission/)
There is a lot of information on the web about Hokulea and her sister canoe Hikianalia. Here are links to view an insight into what takes place on the journeys and meet some of the people onboard. The other link is the important interview with Nainoa Thompson about the significance of Hokulea and what the journey and its culture means to his family, Hawaii people and other Polynesians. The links also provide some background about the history of Polynesian voyaging canoes.