Polynesian Voyaging Society

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The Hawaiian voyaging canoe, Hokuleʻa, arrives off Kailua Beach on May 1, 2005

The Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) is a non-profit research and educational corporation based in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. PVS was established to research and perpetuate traditional Polynesian voyaging methods. Using replicas of traditional double-hulled canoes, PVS undertakes voyages throughout Polynesia navigating without modern instruments.


The society was founded[1] in 1973 by nautical anthropologist Ben Finney, Hawaiian artist Herb Kawainui Kane, and sailor Charles Tommy Holmes. The three wanted to show that ancient Polynesians could have purposely settled the Polynesian Triangle using non-instrument navigation. The first PVS project was to build a replica of a double-hulled voyaging canoe.


Hokuleʻa off the coast of Honolulu, January 2009

On March 8, 1975, the first voyaging canoe to be built in the Hawaiian Islands in over 600 years was launched with captain Kawika Kapahulehua and crew. Named the Hōkūleʻa, it left Hawaiʻi on May 1, 1976 for Tahiti in an attempt to retrace the ancient voyaging route. Micronesian navigator Mau Piailug, using no instruments, successfully navigated the canoe to Tahiti, arriving there on June 3, 1976.

After an attempted voyage to Tahiti in 1978 was aborted when the Hokuleʻa capsized near Lānaʻi and crew member Eddie Aikau was lost at sea, Piailug trained Nainoa Thompson in the ancient navigation methods. Two years later in 1980, Thompson replicated the successful 1976 voyage to Tahiti, becoming the first modern Hawaiian to master the art of Micronesian navigation.

Since that voyage, the Hokuleʻa and her sister canoe the Hawaiʻiloa have undertaken voyages to other islands in Polynesia, including Samoa, Tonga, and New Zealand.

Alingano Maisu[edit]

On January 23, 2007 the Hokuleʻa and the Alingano Maisu set sail on a voyage to Micronesia and Japan. In March 2007, the canoes arrived at Piailug's home island of Satawal where five native Hawaiians and sixteen others were inducted into Pwo as master navigators. The event was the first Pwo ceremony on Satawal in 50 years and the Alingano Maisu was presented to Piailug as a gift for his contribution in reviving wayfinding navigation.


The Times Online reported in March 2009[2] that the US Congress had earmarked $238,000 for the Polynesian Voyaging Society. The funding was targeted by John McCain as pork-barrel-funding.[3][4]


  1. ^ Julia Steele, photos by Monte Costa (September–October 2007). "Among the Stars". Hana Hou! Vol. 10, No. 4.
  2. ^ Tony Allen-Mills (March 22, 2009). "Democrat anger at Obama overkill". TimesOnline.
  3. ^ Lubin, Gus (2011). "15 Examples Of Government Pork That Are Driving John McCain Crazy". businessinsider.com. Retrieved February 5, 2011.
  4. ^ Mendoza, Jim (December 15, 2010). "McCain criticizes Voyaging Society earmark - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL Home". hawaiinewsnow.com. Retrieved February 5, 2011.
  • Ben R. Finney; Sailing in the Wake of the Ancestors: Reviving Polynesian Voyaging (Bishop Museum Press, 2004 ISBN 1-58178-025-7)
  • Ben R. Finney; Voyage of Rediscovery: A Cultural Odyssey Through Polynesia (University of California Press, 1994 ISBN 0-520-08002-5)
  • Will Kyselka; An Ocean in Mind (University of Hawaii Press, 1987 ISBN 0-8248-1112-7)
  • David Lewis; We, the Navigators: The Ancient Art of Landfinding in the Pacific (University of Hawaii Press; 1994 ISBN 0-8248-1582-3)

External links[edit]