Hokulea and Hikianalia crew
Members of the Hokulea and Hikianalia crew gave a presentation at ASCC last week to discuss Polynesian voyaging and provide an understand of their mission of "Malama Honua." Seen here are (l-r) student guest Michael James "MJ" Sword-Curry, ASCC-based UH Sea Grant Extension Agent Kelley Anderson Tagarino, and Hokulea-Hikianalia crew members Katherine Fuller, Ryan Hanohano and American Samoa's own Junior Rex Lokeni. (Photo: J. Kneubuhl)

Hokulea Crew Members Visit ASCC

October 8, 2014

By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer

While the Hawaii-based Polynesian Voyaging Society’s vessels Hokulea and Hikianalia made American Samoa their temporary home base over the last few weeks, the crews on many occasions have done educational outreach to the community, seeking to promote a better understanding of their current mission of “Malama Honua”. On Thursday, October 2nd, three of the vessels’ crew and a student guest shared their experiences and philosophies at the American Samoa Community College before an audience of faculty, staff and students.

During the “talk story” session, organized by ASCC-based University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program Extension Agent Kelley Anderson Tagarino, crew members Ryan Hanohano, Katherine Fuller and Junior Rex Lokeni offered an overview of their personal histories with Hokulea, Hikianalia or both, and also explained the way of thinking behind the theme of the current voyage,”Malama Honua,” which translates from Hawaiian as “to care for our island Earth.” The Hokulea sailors also brought with them current ASCC student Michael James “MJ” Sword-Curry, who spent an extended period of time with the crew during a recent trip to Swains Island.

An ASCC graduate who has earned the distinction of being the first American Samoan to sail on Hokulea for an entire voyage, Junior Rex Lokeni led much of the discussion, often translating unfamiliar ideas into Samoan for the benefit of the onlookers. Lokeni explained how his participation in the Polynesian Voyaging Society has its origins in his initial studies in Marine Science at ASCC with former instructor Karolyn Braun. He also pointed out that the theme of “Malama Honua” most easily translates into Samoan as “malamalama i le fanua” (understanding of the land). While the meanings are not identical, they are close, assuming that an important aspect of caring for something involves understanding it. Lokeni explained that Hokulea, which uses only the wind and swells for momentum and the stars to aid its navigation, seeks to promote environmental awareness by demonstrating mankind’s core reliance on nature and our need to work with nature rather than against it.

ASCC student Sword-Curry met the Hokulea and Hikianalia crews when he joined a work party organized by his relative Su’a Alexander Jennings to welcome the vessels to Swains Island. His ensuing five days in the company of the voyagers left a lasting impression. “I learned first of all how important it is to protect the environment of our islands and planet!” reflected Sword-Curry. “Second, the importance of preserving the ancient art of star navigating, and third, that littering has big present and future consequences!” As a problem that begins with and can only end with people, our abundance of litter indicates an alarming alienation from and unconcern for our natural environment. “Young adults need to be aware that every action bears a consequence,” he said. “A wrapper or plastic bag will eventually find its way into our streams and oceans, causing the death of certain species with a resulting imbalance in our ecosystem.”

While the mission of the Hokulea and Hikianalia incorporates components of science and education, the message of caring for the environment figures most prominently as the vessels travel throughout the Pacific, and indeed, the world. “The Hokulea's world-wide voyage is about much more than just marine science,” said Kelly Anderson Tagarino. “Their current voyage hopes to convey the message that the Earth is our island, the only one that supports life, and just like islanders love and care for their own home island, so too must the world community come together as one to support our island of Earth. With the challenges of climate change facing the next generation, the Hokulea voyage hopes to reconnect people to their roots and train a new generation of navigators, to help us navigate through the challenges ahead.”

For continuously updated information on the voyage of the Hokulea and Hikianalia, visit their website: