Sailing halfway around the world from Hawaiʻi to South Africa and multiple ports and countries in between, the University of Hawaiʻi has been an integral part of the voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻas worldwide voyage, also known as Mālama Honua, or “to care for our earth.”

The University of Hawaiʻi is the higher education partner in the Worldwide Voyage. About 50 University of Hawaiʻi students, faculty and staff from across 10 campuses are already directly involved with the voyage. Some of these participants met recently to discuss UH’s next steps.

Polynesian Voyaging Society President and Master Navigator Nainoa Thompson said that the University of Hawaiʻi is the key to shaping a better world for our children.

“The university is in an amazing moment in time. And in this room, I think you have the navigators,” Thompson told the gathering. “I think if you added up all of your experience, all the things that you’ve been through, all the challenges that you’ve been through, all the things that you fought for and added it all up, that’s extraordinarily powerful.”

Meeting participants included Chad Kālepa Baybayan who is both a master navigator and navigator-in-residence at UH Hilo’s ʻImiloa Astronomy Center. He says a lot of people don’t know the extent of UH’s involvement in Mālama Honua.

“We’re probably the lead institution, most heavily engaged in providing active participation, actually providing the manpower and resources to execute the voyage,” Baybayan said.

Small group discussions led by UH stakeholders on how to mālama honua included:

  • Student Support and Academic Programs (Haunani Kane, UH Mānoa, and Auliʻi Silva, Leeward Community College)
  • Research Inquiry (Ruth Gates, UH Mānoa, and Kaʻiu Kimura, UH Hilo)
  • Institutional Change (Hokulani Aikau, UH Mānoa, and Pualani Lincoln, Hawaiʻi Community College)
  • Campus/Community Partnerships (Dennis Chun, Kauaʻi Community College and Leimomi Dierks, Windward Community College/UH Mānoa)

UH President David Lassner said, “This is a day for all of us to learn from each other and then chart the path forward for our university for Hawaiʻi’s university and sail toward a better future.”

Hōkūleʻa arriving in Cape Town, South Africa on November 12, 2015 (photo courtesy of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and ʻŌiwi TV and Sam Kapoi)