The Canoe Is the People
Indigenous Navigation in the Pacific
Voyages and Revival
In parts of the Pacific, especially Micronesia, much wayfinding knowledge has been kept alive. In others, much has been lost.
Now, in a few Pacific cultures where there are still experienced wayfinders alive, there have been determined efforts to train a new generation in what they know of the ancient voyaging arts. People all over the Pacific, have been wanting to, and trying to, revive their voyaging values and practices. There are now many voyaging societies, including those in Hawaii, Tahiti, the Cook Islands, Aotearoa GLOSSARY Aotearoa - New Zealand , and the Marshall Islands. People are making more and more voyages in Vaka rediscovering the past and finding the way to the future. New schools are being started to teach wayfinding to young people, and re-establish communications, partnerships and networks between people of faraway islands.
Sometimes, European ways are used – like teaching with books, building vakas with modern tools, navigating with the help of western maps, compasses, and weather reports, and using inboard motors and escort boats GLOSSARY escort boats - modern boats that follow a canoe to tow the Vaka when the wind is not good, or when there is worry over safety. People have different opinions about these things, but everyone agrees that it is a good thing to keep traditional knowledge alive and hand it down to the young wayfinders of the future.
Importance of navigational knowledge sharing
Maori master canoe builder, Hekenukumai Busby (New Zealand)
Since my first time in Hawaii, my friends know I build these canoes because I felt... I feel a great debt for the things they have shown us. I believe without the Hawaiians and Mau Piailug sharing their navigational knowledge we would be in a state of ignorance today. But today this knowledge is strong and will never be lost again. The outcome is that we are now teaching young people things like navigation and sailing.