The Canoe Is the People
Indigenous Navigation in the Pacific
Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr of Te Toki Voyaging Trust
One of the things that we've been very interested in is learning the kinds of ways of navigation that Mau Piailug has been teaching everybody. So a few of us have been lucky enough to spend a little bit of time to listen to him and the things that he has to tell us about navigation and all those things. We're starting to find that there are some young people here in New Zealand who are interested in listening to those kinds of stories and doing those kinds of things too. So, something like the programme that we have here with these young children is we sit down and we spend time and look at the old traditions about canoes and the people who sailed - not just to Aotearoa but other stories from all around the Pacific Ocean.
Voyages and Revival
In parts of the Pacific, especially Micronesia, much navigational knowledge has been kept alive. In others, it has been lost.
Now, all over the Pacific, there is a growing revival. 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 traditional canoes - rediscovering the past and carving the way to the future. New schools are being started to teach navigation to young people.
Sometimes, European ways are used - like teaching with books, building canoes with modern tools, navigating with the help of western maps and compasses, and using inboard motors and escort boats GLOSSARY escort boats - modern boats that follow a canoe for support. People have different opinions about these things, but everyone has the same aim - to keep the traditional knowledge alive and hand it down to the young navigators of the future.