Since 2002, the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) and Honolulu Community College’s Marine Education and Training Center (METC) have been working together to develop a learning center that combines the voyaging and cultural expertise of PVS and the educational background of the University of Hawaiʻi into a new, experience-driven format of training for future students.
The partnership actually saved the venerable voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa. After returning to Oʻahu from a historic trip to Tahiti in 1976, Hōkūleʻa had no permanent home and bounced around for a few years. PVS was looking for new berthing, and Honolulu CC stepped up. The vision was not only a home for Hōkūleʻa, but a venue for integrating traditional and cultural skills and values with a community based educational institution.
“We are just so fortunate, so lucky, that there was a Marine Education Training Center and that there was a place to finally take care of Hōkūleʻa,” says PVS President Nainoa Thompson. “[The METC] was a place that we could conduct the kinds of education that are tied to our values and contribute to the strengthening of Hawaiian culture.”
Honolulu CC would step up again in 2010, when tens of thousands of volunteer hours were donated at METC to repair and refurbish Hōkūleʻa in preparation for the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage. The college is continuing its commitment to further develop navigation curriculum by offering non-credit basic crew member training beginning in July 2017 at METC. Participants will learn about the history of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, parts of a canoe, seamanship and navigation basics.
The 10-campus UH System has been an educational partner in the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage, with hundreds of students, faculty and staff participating in multiple ways.
Thompson often cites the late astronaut Lacy Veach when explaining the purpose of the worldwide voyage. Veach once said, “When we figure out how to live well on our islands, we will have the most important gift we can give to the earth, and that is hope.”
Thompson says, “We are going to work towards that dream, and the key is the university. Itʻs the University of Hawaiʻi helping us shine the way.”