The Canoe Is the People
Indigenous Navigation in the Pacific
Maori master canoe builder, Hekenukumai Busby (New Zealand)
In 1985 a Tuhoe elder, John Rangihau was overseas. In Hawaii he met some Hawaiians thinking about sailing a canoe from Hawaii to Tahiti onto Rarotonga, but they were unsure about a journey between Rarotonga and Aotearoa. Then Nainoa Thompson one of Mau Piailug's first students came to New Zealand. He had to decide whether or not to sail to New Zealand. I accepted responsibility for their care and he agreed to sail here and made me a very happy man. That is when they prepared themselves for their Voyage of Rediscovery.
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.