What We Do

Hōkūle‘a sailing for Rapanui in 1999. © Sam Low

The Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) was founded in 1973 to carry out an experiment that would help answer some questions: how did the Polynesians settle the far-flung islands of the mid-Pacific – by accident or by design? Did their canoes and their knowledge of navigation enable them to sail purposefully over the vast sea distances between Pacific islands?  PVS began with the building of a replica of a Hawaiian voyaging canoe, Hōkūle‘a, launched in 1975, to explore the seafaring heritage and the voyaging routes of our ancestors.

When Hōkūle‘a first sailed from Hawai‘i to Tahiti in 1976 under the traditional navigation skills of Mau Piailug, one of the last traditional master navigators on earth, she  established the probability of intentional Polynesian voyaging and settlement of the largest ocean in the world.

She began reconnecting the ocean continent of the Pacific and rekindled pride and aspiration among Native Hawaiians and all Pacific Ocean peoples.  Hōkūle‘a, with her remarkable mentors and teachers, helped sail Native Hawaiians away from the possible extinction of their culture toward a multi-generational challenge to become a catalyst for positive change in Hawai‘i by constantly learning from and nurturing relationships worldwide that share the values of, and responsibility for, caring for Island Earth, her oceans and people, while honoring our heritage and perpetuating our culture.

Hōkūle‘a continued to voyage, carrying Hawai‘i and her diverse and accepting culture throughout the Pacific, bringing together Pacific Island communities and voices, and setting an environmental and cultural-based educational course for our children to know the hope and the potential of themselves, their heritage, and their world.

Voyaging on Hōkūle‘a teaches each crewmember that he or she has individual and collective responsibilities to care for oneself, each other, the canoe and the ocean in a respectful, sustainable manner.  The same is true for the interconnectedness of island living, and that analogy must be made relevant to our Island Earth.  Hōkūle‘a seeks to carry our learned and shared experiences from over 35 years of traditional voyaging, with more than 130,000 miles of Pacific Ocean waters passing under her twin hulls, on a Worldwide Voyage.

Because we are mindful of the urgency of the ecological and social challenges facing our island home, Hawai‘i, and Island Earth, we will seek, build relationships with, and learn from people and places around the world already doing extraordinary work to help the Earth.  We will strive to support their successes in a manner that provides lessons of hope and empowers action to us all as we navigate together toward a safer, more sustainable destination for our children.

Hōkūle‘a Sailing for Moloka‘i. © Monte Costa
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