Canoe Building


Canoe Life

Polynesian Migrations

Navigating Change:

The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands 2003-2004

Photo Below: Hokule'a offshore at Makua, 2003 (Ka`iulani Murphy)




Spr 1995

Sum 1995

"Navigating Change" is a project focused on raising awareness and motivating people to change their attitudes and behaviors to better care for our islands and our ocean resources. The project is an educational partnership that includes private non-government organizations, state agencies and federal agencies that share a collective vision for creating a healthier future for Hawai`i and for our planet. This collaborative multi-agency effort aims to change behaviors by creating an awareness of the ecological problems we face and by making it relevant to the decisions that confront us in our daily lives.

In September 2003, PVS sailed Hokule`a along an ancient route to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands to examine the cultural and biological wonders of this unique and rarely seen ecosystem. The "Ancestral" leg of our journey took us to the islands of Nihoa, where cultural protocols were performed to set the stage for the rest of the voyage.

In 2004, Hokule'a then sailed to Kure, at the western end of the NWHI. (Google Map of the 2004 Voyage from Kaua'i to Kure, courtesy of Michael Shintani.)

The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) contain 9,124 square kilometers of coral reefs that account for 69% of all the coral reefs in the U.S. Here, in a nearly pristine environment, 10 small islands support millions of nesting seabirds and the breeding grounds for the endangered Hawaiian monk seal and the threatened green sea turtle. The reefs also provide essential habitat for several commercial fisheries and countless indigenous and endemic reef species, half of which exist nowhere else.

The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands is a microcosm of island ecology where we can learn to manage and care for a pristine and fragile ecosystem and apply these lessons back to the main Hawaiian Islands. It also provides a basis for comparison of the health of our coral reefs back home. Hokule`a’s mission is to restore an ancient wisdom, the Hawaiian concept of malama – of caring for our land and sea to ensure a balance among all forms of life.

Participating Partners in Navigating Change are:

• Bishop Museum
• U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
• Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Ecosystem Reserve
• Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council
• University of Hawai`i School of Ocean and Earth Sciences and Technology
• University of Hawaii Sea Grant College
• University of Hawai`i Center for Hawaiian Studies
• University of Hawai`i – Hawai`i Institute of Marine Biology
• Hawai`i Maritime Center
• Hawai`i State Department of Education
• Hawai`i State Department of Land and Natural Resources
• The Nature Conservancy
• Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS)

Honolulu Advertiser Reports on the 2004 NWHI Voyage, by Jan Tenbruggencate:

Monday, May 3: Recovering the seafaring tradition of Hawai'i.

Saturday, May 8: Hokule'a awaits favorable winds for voyage north.

Thursday, May 13: Hokule'a to remain docked until Sunday.

Saturday, May 22, 2004: Departure unleashes crew's enthusiasm.

Monday, May 24: After delays, Hokule'a voyage finally begins.

Thursday, May 27: 'Tiny little island' greets Hokule'a.

Sunday, May 30: Crew sets sail for Laysan.

Monday, May 31: Hokule'a captain will sail on despite injury.

Thursday, June 3: Canoe crew ashore on Laysan's sands.

Monday, June 7: Northwest islands dotted with wrecks of old vessels.

Tuesday, June 8: Marine debris proves to be real threat to voyage.

Wednesday, June 9: Hokule'a reaches Kure, end of voyage.

Thursday, June 10: Hokule'a crew brings voyage to close.

Saturday, June 11: Mystery disease killing coral.

Saturday, June 12: Hokule'a begins trip home.

Sunday, June 13: Voyage raises challenge.

Tuesday, June 15: So far, it's smooth sailing for Hokule'a.

Wednesday, June 16: Big, unique fish thrive in distant waters.

Thursday, June 17: Wonders blossom under the sea.

Saturday, June 19: Hokule'a crew impressed, amazed.

Tuesday, June 22: Hokule'a expected in Kaua'i last night.

Wednesday, June 23: Hokule'a prepares for passage into future.

Sunday, July 11: Lessons from Hokule'a ripple to kids, nations.