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Voyaging canoe passing snow covered mountains
Hōkūleʻa in Alaska (Photo credit: Chris Blake, Polynesian Voyaging Society)

Voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa departed Statter Harbor in Juneau, Alaska on June 18, officially starting the Moananuiākea Voyage, a four-year circumnavigation of the Pacific. Many members of the University of Hawaiʻi ʻohana continue to play roles in Hōkūleʻa’s journeys.

Lassner smiling with a man wearing a wolf pelt holding feathers
David Lassner with Tlingit wolf dancer Frank Coronell

“The University of Hawaiʻi is proud and honored to partner with the Polynesian Voyaging Society on this next inspiring voyage,” said UH President David Lassner. “Moananuiākea will help focus Hawaiʻi and our Pacific ʻohana on healing our oceans as we celebrate the brilliance and courage of our navigators and voyagers from centuries present to today. Hōkūleʻa brings together all the people of Hawaiʻi like nothing else.”

The canoe and voyage received a grand ceremonial blessing, hosted by the Alaska Native community on June 15. Hundreds of people including Native Alaskans, Juneau community members, and supporters from Hawaiʻi and other places around the world attended and participated in the celebration.

The Hawaiʻi portion of the Global Launch Ceremony included the offering of ʻawa, a ceremonial drink used throughout the Pacific for events of importance. Lassner and East-West Center President Suzanne Vares-Lum were among the Hawaiʻi participants sharing their well wishes for the voyage.

“There’s just so much to love about the Moananuiākea voyage that we are here to launch,” said Lassner at the ceremony, “the sharing of knowledge, teamwork, wisdom and laughter and love, the weaving together of absolute brilliance and courage of the Pacific navigators and voyagers who went off into the unknown to learn and the modern science and technology that we see on the voyage today.”

Polynesian Voyaging Society CEO and Pwo Navigator Nainoa Thompson gave opening remarks about the Voyage and its purpose. One of the goals of Moananuiākea: A Voyage for Earth is to connect nations around the Pacific and the globe to build a collective movement to care for the oceans.

Weather permitting, Hōkūleʻa’s crew is planning to visit several communities in Southeast Alaska: Kake, Petersburg, Wrangell, Ketchikan, Metlakatla and Hydaburg. Hydaburg will be the last stop in Alaska before the canoe enters British Columbia.

Learn more about the Moananuiākea Voyage at the Polynesian Voyaging Society website.

Two people holding a wooden paddle that contains the text: Hokulea a Voyage of Hope Yakutat, Alaska
(Photo credit: Philamer Batangan, Polynesian Voyaging Society)
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