By Jennifer Allen
“He waʻa he moku, he moku he waʻa,” is a Hawaiian proverb, meaning, “The canoe is an island, the island is a canoe.”
Centuries ago, Polynesian voyaging canoes were tools for survival, enabling islanders to find food and settle new lands. Life on the canoe was a microcosm of life on land. Everyone needed to care for one another and for the canoe in order to survive. The clearest modern-day expression of this truth is the Hawaiian double-hulled sailing canoe, Hōkūleʻa.
Hōkūleʻa is sailed without modern instruments, using only the sun, moon, swells, birds, winds, and stars as natural guides. Her practice is one of pure sustainability, her mission, fully inspired. Since launching from Hilo in May 2014, Hōkūleʻa has crossed three oceans, four seas and eleven time zones—stopping in over fifty ports to connect with communities who care for the health of the oceans and our shared island, Earth. This worldwide voyage is known as Mālama Honua—to care for earth.
Above: Sailing for over forty years now, Hōkūleʻa has ignited a sailing canoe renaissance in island communities throughout Polynesia. Photo: John Bilderback