The Canoe Is the People
Indigenous Navigation in the Pacific
Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr of Te Toki Voyaging Trust:
We’re finding that all the things that children are taught at school, like about mathematics and science and astronomy and all those things, are things that our ancestors knew a lot about anyway and did before. So once we can get the message to people to understand that the knowledge of all our ancestors was as useful as any knowledge today, I think then people will be more interested in trying to look at learning about becoming, or following the pathway to become, a navigator.
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 ...