We built the vakas in Aotearoa (New Zealand), and since then, the news has spread across the Pacific. One by one, other islands have become involved. Members of our vaka family crewing their own vakas include Aotearoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, and Tahiti (French Polynesia). In addition, we'll have two vaka crewed by our people from Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Hawaii (USA), and Vanuatu.
Pwo Navigators, a special kuleana given by Master Navigator Mau Piailug (a Micronesian Navigator and Hokule'a's first navigator). At this ceremony on June 25, 2011, O'ahu, Hawaii, Hekenukumai (Hector) Busby bestowed Pwo to Pe'ia Paitai. (L-R) Tua Pittman, Jack Thatcher, Bruce Blankenfeld, Hekenukumai (Hector) Busby (seated), Chad Kalepa Baybayan, Nainoa Thompson.
The shared knowledge and contribution of our elders, navigators, sailors, and our Polynesian brothers and sisters of both past and present are the reasons this project has come to life. As we voyage throughout the Pacific, spreading our message of respectful stewardship of our ocean, we carry the spirit of our ancestors and gain continued strength by the many other brothers and sisters we meet on shore and who come up from the waters’ depths to guide us on our journey.
Our voyaging motto – Te Mana o Te Moana translates into “the spirit of the sea.” The roots of our spirit are anchored in the depths of the sea, allowing us to freely travel and safely sail onward. Our cetacean (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) brothers and sisters hold significant value and respect in our Polynesian culture. Our legends, though varying between islands, hold these creatures as sacred, with a weight equal to our human brothers and sisters. When we leave our families on land, we join our families in the sea. They guide us through our journey and ward off dangers along the way. Whales and dolphins possess mana; they have the supernatural power of influence and the ability to carry luck with them. The quality of mana that we humans, living beings, and especially whales and dolphins own allow us successful travels as we voyage with Te Mana o Te Moana.