Cook Islands navigation student Kaiki Tarangi (Karl):

If my ancestors can sail the biggest ocean in the world, I can take on the whole world. Has it changed my journey in life? It’s actually given me a kick up the butt. It says, “We can do this. Come on, boy. You got a gift. We gave it to you. You do everything you can with it.” And it’s not like smacking my bottom. It’s more like the challenge has been set. We’re all high achievers.


Thousands of years ago, when most sailors were still hugging the coast, the island peoples of the Pacific held the knowledge and skills to explore the great ocean paths around and beyond their homes.

Modern instruments didn't exist - no compasses, no radio, no radar GLOSSARY radar - a system that uses electromagnetic waves to locate surrounding objects , no GPS GLOSSARY Global Positioning System (GPS) - a handheld computer that tells your position by communicating with satellites . The Pacific peoples navigated their canoes with their own sophisticated GLOSSARY sophisticated - highly developed techniques, using the seas, skies, and sea life to guide them. Their knowledge was built up through generations of experience.

It was handed down through careful teaching, stories, and songs.

An experienced Tongan navigator once said,
"The compass can go wrong, the stars never."
From David Lewis in Bader, H. and McCurdy, P., eds (1999).

And that is the beauty of Pacific navigation. Voyage into this site to find out more ...