Marine Education Training Center (METC)

10 Sand Island Parkway, Honolulu, HI 96814 (Click on the Address for a Map.)

Sharing Expertise-Setting Educational Goals

by Bob Perkins, Director of Honolulu Community College (HCC)’s METC

Since 2002, the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) and the University of Hawai‘i, Honolulu Community College’s Marine Education and Training Center have been working together to develop a learning center that combines the voyaging and cultural expertise of PVS and the educational background of HCC/METC into a new, experience-driven format of training for future students.

When PVS was looking for new berthing for the voyaging canoe Hōkūle‘a, Nainoa Thompson, President of the Polynesian Voyaging Society (custodian of Hōkūle‘a), met with Bob Perkins, Director of the Marine Education and Training Center (METC) to discuss the feasibility of Hōkūle‘a utilizing some of METC’s wharf area. Initial discussions led both individuals to envision not only a home for Hōkūle‘a, but a venue for integrating the traditional and cultural skills and values with a community based educational institution.

METC and its two-year program, Small Vessel Fabrication and Repair, train its students in the construction, maintenance and repair of boats with a major emphasis on composite vessel construction, woodworking and boatyard skills. Additionally, as part of the college’s mission to “Contribute to the support of the community’s economic and social growth”, METC aided the Wai‘anae Civic Club in the maintenance of its voyaging canoe E’ala, constructed the plug and mold for a 52’ voyaging canoe for Aha Pūnana Na Leo, UH Hilo. From these activities, it was felt by METC that curriculum needed to be developed so students could benefit from training in the construction and repair of Polynesian/Hawaiian canoes utilizing both traditional as well as modern techniques.

PVS, with its vast experience in traditional voyaging and non-instrument navigation sat poised to instill the knowledge gained from thousands of miles of ocean passages into future generations through education. The synergy of the two organizations melded into a partnering between PVS and Honolulu Community College/METC. This partnering has already produced two courses emphasizing traditional way finding and astronomy and a state-of-the-art double canoe whose design is from the traditional side while its construction utilizes the latest in composite technology, including carbon fiber foam cored hulls.

The future for this partnership holds many varied and exciting opportunities. It is envisioned that future students will be able to enroll in seamanship courses that will include “behind the wheel” training, culminating in the student sitting for the US Coast Guard Small Vessel Captain examination. A traditional navigation program and additional courses in traditional vessel construction methods, and a degree program focusing on voyaging. Sustainability, environmental/ecological concerns and resolutions for both oceans and lands are subject areas that will play an important role in course development. And of course, the Worldwide Voyage will introduce many new and varied interest areas. All of these courses and programs will utilize new, non-traditional methods of delivering curriculum, far from the traditional classroom setting. Courses will emphasize cooperation between students and respect for culture and community.

The partnership between PVS and HCC/METC, and its new education, will provide a diversified and exciting arena for those individuals ready to meet the challenges that the 21st century holds. These challenges need to be taken seriously and intelligently addressed in order to provide a culturally sound, technologically relevant, environmentally and sustainable future for Hawai‘i, its oceans and its people.

Bob Perkins, Working on Restoring Hōkūle‘a, 2010-2011