Sunday marks 40 years since the iconic Polynesian voyaging canoe Hokulea embarked on her very first journey.
On this anniversary, the voyaging canoe's navigators and crew members reflect on the past and look ahead to the future.
"Hokulea is more than two-thirds of my life…so how does it feel? It shaped my life, it gave it vision, it gave it values, it defined my choices," said Pwo Navigator and Hokulea Captain Nainoa Thompson.
On March 8, 1975, Hokulea was launched from the sacred shores of Hakipuu-Kualoa in Kaneohe Bay, Oahu. Thompson says Hokulea is much more than a voyaging canoe. He says it has brought people together from all walks of life to participate in what we care so much about here in Hawaii.
"Rediscover our history and our relationship to the oceans, reconnect us to our oceans in a very deep way, and reunite the whole Pacific family back together when we forgot who we were, our relationships," Thompson said.
Hokulea is currently in New Zealand as part of a trip around the world to spread the message of caring for the earth and the ocean.
Thompson estimates Hokulea has sailed about 145,000 miles in the Pacific over the past 40 years. He says the canoe helped begin a generation of renewal for the Hawaiian culture and language and helped revitalize voyaging and navigation traditions throughout the Pacific Ocean.
"I look forward to all the young people that are gonna be growing up and strengthened on a foundation that they know where they come from and they're proud of who they are," he said.
As the historic vessel continues on with the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage, people in Hawaii are celebrating decades of achievements.
"She's been sailing for 40 years and our goal is that she'll keep sailing maybe for the next 40 years, for not your generation but the generation after you," said crew member Jenna Ishii.
In celebration of the 40th anniversary, the Polynesian Voyaging Society kicked off a series of events and festivities. Community members shared birthday messages and submitted inspiring local "stories of hope."
For a full list of events that will run until the end of April, click here.