Nainoa Thompson

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Nainoa Thompson (center) with actor Jason Scott Lee (left) and artist Layne Luna (right). Photo taken in 2003 at Hilo, Hawaiʻi.

Charles Nainoa Thompson (born March 11, 1953, in Oahu, Hawaii[1]) is a Native Hawaiian navigator and the president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society. He is best known as the first Hawaiian to practice the ancient Polynesian art of navigation since the 14th century, having navigated two double-hulled canoes (the Hōkūleʻa and the Hawaiʻiloa) from Hawaiʻi to other island nations in Polynesia without the aid of western instruments.

Early life and career[edit]

Hōkūleʻa sailing off Honolulu, 2009

Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Thompson is a descendant of Alexander Adams and James Harbottle, foreign advisors of the Kingdom of Hawai'i and a direct descendant of Kamehameha I. He graduated from Punahou School in 1972 and earned a BA in Ocean Science in 1986 from the University of Hawaiʻi.[2] Thompson was trained by master navigator Mau Piailug from the island of Satawal.

His first solo voyage was from Hawaiiʻi to Tahiti in 1980. Since then, Thompson has been the lead navigator on the subsequent voyages of Hōkūleʻa, including the Voyage of Rediscovery from 1985 to 1987.

On March 18, 2007, Thompson and four other Native Hawaiian navigators were inducted into Pwo as master navigators. The ceremony was conducted by Piailug on Satawal.

In June 2014 he was made a commander of the Order of Tahiti Nui for his work with the Polynesian Voyaging Society.[3]


Thompson currently serves as the Chair of the Board of Trustees for Kamehameha Schools (a post that his father Myron "Pinky" Thompson also held), and a member of the Board of Regents for the University of Hawaiʻi.

Family and personal life[edit]

Thompson is married to KHON-TV2 television anchor Kathy Muneno. They are the parents of twins.


  1. ^ Low, Sam; Sam Low (2007). "Nainoa Thompson's Path to Knowledge: How Hokulea's Navigator Finds his Way". In Howe, K. R. (ed.). Vaka Moana: Voyages of the Ancestors. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-3213-1.
  2. ^ Biography from Kamehameha Schools Archived 2005-11-01 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Voyage de Hokule'a: Le « Aito » Nainoa THOMPSON, Commandeur dans l'ordre de Tahiti Nui" (in French). Tahiti Infos. 26 June 2014. Retrieved 22 October 2022.

Further reading[edit]

  • Lal, Brij V.; Kate Fortune (2000). The Pacific Islands. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. p. 81. ISBN 978-0-8248-2265-1.

External links[edit]