'Coming back': Hokulea's journey spurs rebirth of canoe cultures in Pacific

Hokule’a inspires canoe cultures between Hawai’i and Tahiti
Published: Jun. 12, 2017 at 9:38 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 17, 2017 at 7:57 AM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - When Hokulea makes its historic return home Saturday, she'll be joined by several other voyaging canoes.

They'll have traveled from Tahiti, Fa'afaite, New Zealand and Okeanos.

The representation underscores how Hokulea has helped spur a rebirth of canoe cultures across the Pacific and the world since her maiden voyage to Tahiti in 1976.

Polynesian Voyaging Society navigator Kaleo Wong is hosting Tahitian navigator Tautuarii Taraufau, and several others from Tahiti.

"It's a homecoming really. It's not just our canoe arriving here," Wong said. "It's our people from different places in the ocean coming back to Hawaii."

Taraufau added, "Hawaiians teach us because we forget all those things."

He wants more Tahitians to come to Hawaii to learn long-distance wayfinding.

"I'm proud to be a part of their sailing program," said Taraufau.

His family has been hosting the Hokulea crew since 1976, when excited well-wishers almost sunk the canoe as they tried to climb on board.

Wong said modern voyagers have successfully navigated in the path of their ancestors who used ancient science to find new lands across the Pacific.

"From understanding our language and our culture, we know that Tahiti is definitely an ancestral homeland of ours," he said. "But there was a period of maybe a couple hundred years where there was a disconnection with them because we are separated by 2,500 miles of ocean."

He added, "Hawaiians and Tahitians are the same people and we are just lucky that we started to bring this culture back that continues to bind us together."

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