Canoe Building


Canoe Life

Polynesian Migrations

Nainoa Thompson

Over the last 15 years, Nainoa Thompson, navigator for the Polynesian Voyaging Society, has inspired and led a revival of traditional voyaging arts in Hawai'i and Polynesia-arts which have been lost for centuries due to the cessation of such voyaging and the colonization and Westernization of the Polynesian archipelagos. In 1980, Thompson became the first Hawaiian and the first Polynesian to practice the art of wayfinding on long distance ocean voyages since voyaging ended in Polynesia around the 14th century. Thompson has developed a system of wayfinding, or non-instrument navigation, synthesizing traditional principles of ancient Pacific navigation and modern scientific knowledge. This system of wayfinding is being taught in schools throughout Hawai'i the Pacific. In addition to being a navigator, Thompson is a leader with a vision, and a charismatic, spell-binding storyteller. The following accounts of the revival of voyaging and navigation in moddern times, the history of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, and the Society's long-range vision and mission for rethinking the future of Hawai'i, is presented, as much as possible in Thompson's own words-from his interviews, talks and writings.

Childhood and Schooling

Scientific Inquiry into Polynesian Pre-history: The Building of Hokule'a (1973-1975)

Searching for a Way (1976-1978)

Learning from Mau, Finding a Way (1980)

The Voyage of Rediscovery (1985-1987)

Sharing the Knowledge, Perpetuating Traditions (1990-1995)

Significance of Voyaging

The Art of Non-Instrument Navigation

Rapa Nui-1999

Mau's Legacy and Importance of Education

Sources of Information

"The Ocean Is My Classroom" by Gisela E. Speidel, Editor of The Kamehameha Journal of Education, and Kristina Inn, Associate Editor. Published in The Kamehameha Journal of Education (Fall 1994), Vol. 5, 11-23.

An Ocean in Mind by Will Kyselka (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press 1987)

Speech to Polynesian Union Conference, 1997

Speech to Hui Lama, Kamehameha Schools, April, 1998.