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.
This is where I’m meant to be
Cook Islands wayfinding student Te Aru Rangi Reitu (Rangi)
“I had a vision many, many years ago, with me sitting out here on the water in a canoe. I’ve never told anyone this. This is the first time I’m relaying this to anyone. And in my dream I was saying, ‘What am I doing here?’ I was frightened, and then I realised what I was here for. This is where I’m meant to be, not in New Zealand. This is where I’m meant to be. I’m meant to be part of this voyaging society.”