Most history states that the first human contact with the Hawaiian Islands was approximately 500 AD. These ocean voyaging people arrived on the most isolated islands on the planet, in canoes. Traveling some 2000 miles over open ocean, these Polynesian explorers are regarded as some of the most skilled navigators of all time. The Polynesian navigators sailed upon double-hulled voyaging canoes (wa'a kaulua in the Hawaiian Language) and used celestial navigation as their primary means of wayfinding. In addition, these master wayfinders used ocean currents, wind patterns, sea birds and other traditional techniques to complete these epic journeys across massive sections of the Pacific Ocean Basin.
The Polynesian Voyaging Society was founded in 1973 by nautical anthropologist Ben Finney, Hawaiian artist Herb Kawainui Kane and sailor Charles Tommy Holmes. The current mission of the Polynesian Voyaging Society:
"Founded on a legacy of Pacific Ocean exploration, the Polynesian Voyaging Society seeks to perpetuate the art and science of traditional Polynesian voyaging and the spirit of exploration through experiential educational programs that inspire students and their communities to respect and care for themselves, each other, and their natural and cultural environments."
The Hōkūle'a ("Star of Gladness" in the English Language) is the primary vessel of the Polynesian Voyaging Society. Since 1976, the Hōkūle'a has successfully completed some nine major voyages, crossing thousands of nautical miles of the Earth's oceans. Using the ancient knowledge of Polynesian Navigation that had been passed down from generation to generation, she sails without the use of modern navigation instruments (radar, gps, satellite navigation, etc.).
The most recent voyage of the Hōkūle'a was called Malama Honua ("To Care For Our Island Earth" in the English Language). Malama Honua is a worldwide voyage that started in the Hawaiian Islands in May of 2014 and was completed with the return of the Hōkūle'a into Honolulu on June 17, 2017. Upon completion of the Malama Honua voyage, the Hōkūle'a had sucessfully circumnavigated the planet using traditional Polynesian techniques of wayfinding.
For additional details about the Polynesian Voyaging Society and it's mission to Malama Honua, please visit http://www.hokulea.com.