Ocean voyaging canoes Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia arrive in Bay of Islands

By Dean Nathan

Today, the legendary ocean voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa and its sister canoe Hikianalia arrived in the Bay of Islands. 

It's been nearly 30 years since this legendary ocean voyaging canoe from Hawai'i first came to our shores and it's said its visit sparked a revival of ocean voyaging and celestial navigation amongst our people. 

Hōkūleʻa is no newcomer to this stretch of water and hence its sailors still talk about its first arrival in Northland at Waitangi.

According to Jack Thatcher, “There are five main tribes here but Sir James Henare wanted to honour them by making them the sixth tribe of the region.  Hence the tribal name of Ngāti Ruawahia. That was given to the crew on board Hokulea by Northland elders.”

Called 'Malama Honua' the purpose of this voyage is the use of ocean going canoe to carry the message of health of the sea and the environment with the added warning that the issue of the deterioration of our natural environment is now on the crest of the wave.

Nainoa Thompson says, “On that waka right now are young Hawaiian people with some of your Aotearoa masters Frank Kawe Jackko Thatcher and you have others on Hikianalia, that's what its all about.  And the need for Pacific people to come together and start to reshape and take responsibility for our future, its crucial now!”

The open ocean has always been the marae of our ancestors with Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia having departed Hawai'i over five months ago to travel the many islands to pass on their important message to the people of the Pacific.  Today they have finally returned to this part of the world.

Frank Kawe says, “From its first arrival here it created inspiration amongst Māori to revive our ocean voyaging skills and build our own canoe and today we have many ocean voyaging canoe in this country.”

The crew will receive an official welcome at Waitangi this Saturday.