Talk Story with Wayfinder and Master Navigator Nainoa Thompson
October 24, 2018 | Nainoa Thompson, a Hawaiian master navigator, spoke about how resurrecting the ancient Polynesian art of navigation has the power to create a more sustainable world.
This presentation is brought to you by Arizona State University's Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability and a generous investment by Julie Ann Wrigley. Wrigley Lecture Series-- world-renowned thinkers and problem-solvers engage the community in dialogues to address sustainability challenges.
[SINGING TRADITIONAL SONG]
And welcome to all of you to the Tempe Center for the Arts and this very special evening. The Wrigley Series is for the very best thinkers and doers who challenge and inspire us in sustainability.
And it's been our pleasure in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability and the School of Sustainability to host many, many dozens of speakers that not only have an impact on the broader community but really help to inspire what's especially important for me-- our students to think about new ways of doing things and, most importantly, to be inspired to not deal just with all the troubles of the world but really to think about what are the solutions to the grand challenges that we all face?
Now, not on all occasions do we actually have the person behind the name present at these presentations. We are very lucky and fortunate to have here this evening with us Julie Ann Wrigley, who is going to introduce our very special speaker. So Julie, please come up and do that.
Julie Ann Wrigley:
Can you see me? [LAUGHTER]
Thank you, Dean Boone. I'm delighted to welcome you all to the Wrigley Lecture Series on Sustainability. This program brings internationally-known thinkers and problem-solvers to ASU to interact with our students and our community.
We've welcomed many wonderful thought leaders in the field of sustainability through this series, some of whom you might not have put into the field of sustainability. But recognizing the breadth of the field, people like Van Jones, Vandana Shiva, and Tom Friedman, Kate Brandt, and Michael Pollan-- and that's only a very small representation of the great people that have come.
Today is no exception. Nainoa Thompson is celebrated around the world for his vision and courage. He reunited Pacific Islanders with the first voyage of a traditional sailing canoe in over 600 years. The 1976 voyage-- and I never think of him as that old, so I had to question the year, but it is-- 1976 of Hokule'a reawakened a cultural pride, identity, and a connection to place.
The Polynesian Voyaging Society has sailed the equivalent of seven times around the globe to unify the world's oceanic nations. And you'll hear about one coming up in 2025 or-- 2025? 2026. Anyway-- not that far away. Please enjoy this short video about the importance of exploration and our common desire to protect our most cherished values and places.
[VIDEO PLAYBACK] [WATER SLOSHING] [MUSIC PLAYING]
- 7,000 years ago, the first really oceanic people came out of China and came out of Taiwan. Then, you get to Polynesia, this oceanic country bounded by Hawaii in the north and New Zealand in the southwest and Rapa Nui in the east-- 10 million square miles bigger than Russia.
And it was discovered by these extraordinary people. They were, really, the astronauts of our ancestors. They were the greatest explorers on the face of the earth.
- Unaided by modern instruments, these extraordinary explorers discovered and settled every livable landmass in the Pacific, relying solely on a complex understanding of the stars, the winds, the waves, and other cues from nature.
- You know, our ancestors not only were just great navigators, they were great stewards of these islands. The time that the first Europeans came, the journals of Captain Cook talked about large populations, maybe 800,000. Now, that's a median. It could be even higher. It's approaching, maybe, the numbers of people that are living on Hawaii today.
They figured it out-- how to live well on these islands. And I think that is the challenge of the time for planet Earth and all of humanity. It's to figure that out. How are you going to do that?
Hokule'a is pulling us into a direction of asking the question, are you going to be responsible, and are you going to take action? Are you going to do something with what you have? You've got a voyaging canoe.
- In a generation, Hokule'a has sailed over 140,000 nautical miles to reunite the world's largest oceanic nation. Today, Hokule'a voyages around the planet with the message of malama honua, or caring for Island Earth, with a firm belief that blending traditional and modern technologies will help us find our way to a healthier future.
- Hokule'a, to watch it go around the world, has this enormous potential to go to 40, 50 countries on the planet, to be with the great navigators on earth. And I'm not talking about those in canoes. I'm talking about those who are doing things to give kindness and compassion to the earth and those who live on it-- those navigators.
We're not going to change the world. But we're going to go and build a network of people around the earth who are going to change it. And our job is to help them be successful.
[MUSIC PLAYING] [END PLAYBACK]
Julie Ann Wrigley:
Are we good? Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome one of the world's greatest explorers, Nainoa Thompson.
Aloha mai kakou. Thank you so much for coming, which allows me the privilege to share a story of thousands of people that-- I'm not much of a public speaker. I'm a much better sailor. But I'm honored to be here on behalf of the many people-- thousands of people-- that made voyaging successful and safe over the last 44 years.
And so I know we're limited with time, and the story's gotten really long. So I worked really hard to cut the slides down, and I actually added two more. So I'm going to go as fast as I can. So I want to apologize in the front end.
But before I even get started, the reason we're here with our team, staff from the Polynesian Voyaging Society and from Kamehameha Schools, is to learn and do. This word, "sustainability," we know how to spell it, but we don't fully understand what it is and how are we going to crack that code.
So we're searching for the best and that have the best chance at creating the sail plan, navigating the course, having the courage to take on the challenge that most won't, and having the navigation skills to be able to see the destination that we need to reach. It's not an option not to, on behalf of our children.
And so in our research and our conversations, the best place is here. It's emotional. It's meaningful. We're here on behalf of our children and children that we don't know, that aren't born.
And that the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute for Sustainability-- that we had this eye-blink of time in the last day and a half, we can see through the eyes of those who are dedicated on a daily basis. It's a place of genius and ingenuity and innovation. But above all, it's a place of courage that's taking on the hard stuff.
And part of the problem is, really, education. We were not taught. We were taught an old, industrial-base education that was designed to make America the most powerful economy in the world by teaching people to be good in the workforce in our industries. And that's exactly what we did.
But now, we have to have a university in which we're going to be able to have a new education, an education of change. And to be at Arizona State University was just a privilege and a honor. And Julie, we're very, very grateful.
And through your whole extraordinary leadership and those of you that supported us-- we need to go tomorrow. We need to go home. But we're coming back and with a really amazing story that I think is going to start to shift the purpose and the reasons why we voyage into the future.
So before I even start to go into this story, I just want to try to-- maybe not possible-- to impress upon you how privileged we are to be here with all of the great navigators and great voyagers and courageous people that have inspired us, and not just inspired us, but you make it clearer about what our work needs to be. You help us define why we sail.
And this story that I'm going to bring is really an old one and mostly about yesterday. Because I will not speak publicly if I don't attempt to bring my teachers into this room. This is not about me. This is about just following them.
So permit me your time. And I know I only have so much time. You kick me out any time you're ready. I am totally OK. But I need to bring them in the room. Otherwise, I can't speak.
So let's just try to imagine. Imagine 2,000 years ago. Imagine there's these islands in the middle of the Pacific, where I'm born from-- the Hawaiian Islands. Imagine that it's like these miracle islands in the sea that are the most ecologically rich place.
Imagine that in the building from the bottom of the sea floor, through volcanism, these extraordinary land masses. And imagine it would take 200,000 years on average to get one single species to transport across the largest ocean on the planet to the single-most isolated-- so-called isolated, if you say oceans are isolated-- high island archipelago on the earth and that this rich ecological place starts to flourish.
So imagine that, 2,000 years ago, there would be the first human footprint that would come. And you've got to imagine because there are no photographs. There are no written histories. And you need to imagine that-- we know that somebody came here.
But we don't know the name of the canoe. We don't know the name of the captain. We don't know the name of the navigator. That's kind like forgetting Apollo. And there's reasons for the forgetting. And that's the danger-- forgetting.
But they would cross, probably, 2,400 miles of open ocean. They would be considered, arguably, the greatest feat of ocean exploration and navigation in its time. But we forgot, and there's reasons for that. Next slide.
About 200 years ago, the world is expanding. People are voyaging everywhere. The European expansion came to Hawaii. When Captain Cook came, he wrote in his journal-- part of it was in that video-- about a very healthy people, very productive people, very strong. What Hawaiians believed was the most important, most definition of wealth, and that was fresh water, protecting the water.
And so you can imagine that these people that were here for 2,000 years knew the code to sustainability. Because nothing was brought in. It's very different today, where 90% of what we eat comes from outside. And 95% of what we fuel, we buy it from outside, from people we don't know.
And so Captain Cook put Lieutenant Bligh, the first-known European onto Hawaiian soil, on the southern point of the island-- your island, at Kauai. And his job was to do a census. Imagine that. They're guessing that there was 800,000 native Hawaiians, best guess.
And then, in 28 years, 75 percent of those native Hawaiians would die. Stories of having to bury them standing because there wasn't enough sand. And the story just goes on and on and on. So about 100 years ago-- it's a chronic, painful story of loss. And this is not what this presentation is about. But you need to understand the loss to understand renewal.
But in that time, loss of culture, language, your lands, governance-- all that stuff. Then you have to import people from China and from Japan and from Portugal and from the Philippines to be able to man the plantations. Rough time for native people.
So 100 years ago, the population was about down to, the best guess, 22,000. So one out of 37 would survive. Then my father was born in 1924, his parents nearly pure Hawaiian, which makes him nearly pure Hawaiian.
But he would be the first generation that in my family, that parents intentionally would not teach language, culture, or genealogy. If you know where you come from, it's dangerous in that society. And then, the school systems in 1926 would outlaw, by policy, Hawaiian culture, language.
And my grandmother would sit me down and tell me stories about being beaten by her teachers with the authority to beat the Hawaiian out of them. And she went to the school-- it's called Kamehameha-- for the well-being of native Hawaiians.
It's a very different world view than it is today. And that's because it changed. And so what I want to bring to you is those navigators and those change-makers that allows me to believe that we can solve the big issues if we do the right thing. Next slide.
It begins with him-- surfer, Santa Barbara, not Hawaii. He was an anthropologist. He was studying the Pacific and trying to figure out the question that Captain Cook would say-- how can you account for this nation spread so large, the biggest nation on Earth, that has spread so far across the giant oceans?
His name is Dr. Ben Finney. And so he, by miracle, came to Hawaii in his post-doctorate work, trying to figure out, how did they do this? How did they discover all these islands in the biggest nation on Earth?
And the genesis of Hokule'a and the renewal of culture and traditions was because he came to the University of Hawaii and met a woman professor at a time when you can count all the women professors on one hand. And her name was Katharine Luomala. And she had these two books.
One was Kon-Tiki by Thor Hyerdahl. And this was 1958, so it's 60 years ago that the genesis started. And the other book was the Voyagers of the Pacific by an anthropologist from New Zealand, Andrew Sharp.
Thor Heyerdahl is saying, now, they drifted on balsa rafts, crashed into islands, and then that's how this whole nation got populated. And Andrew Sharp said, no. They had voyaging canoes. I'm an anthropologist. I know.
But they didn't have the intelligence to navigate more than 100 miles. So Hawaii was there by chance, by being lost in storm. Mathematically impossible to do, to drift in a storm to Hawaii from Tahiti.
So this man, Katharine Luomala gave him these two books and said, these books are wrong. Read it, and change it. So she planted the seed in the anthropologist. It took a decade for him to make the phone call. The phone call didn't go to Hawaii. Because even if someone answered the phone, they wouldn't be able to imagine the dream of rebuilding a voyaging canoe, rebuilding a culture.
He called this man-- next slide. Hawaiian. Arguably the top best artist in Hawaii in modern times. His name is Herb Kawainui Kane. Ben called her and said, we need to bring back the troops. We need to be able to tell it. We need to build a voyaging canoe.
So these two men-- next slide-- would now reshape-- rethink-- everything, break everything down, look at this triangle-- Hawaii in the north, Aotearoa, or New Zealand, in the southwest, and Rapa Nui is down in the east. 10 million square miles. It's larger than Russia. It's three times the size of the continental United States. Exclude the landmass Aotearoa for a moment, humbly, and add up all the total island mass in that triangle, and it can fit into one third the state of New York.
But now we know. Australia has artifacts from Polynesia. And National Geographic is trying to put together a film about the evidence-- both North and South America, of Polynesians going there. And then we also know that there are strong connections to South America, and people are working on the linguistic connections and the genetic connections to Cuba and in the Caribbean.
And then, to make it more complicated, go behind the screen to an island called Madagascar. And the names of mountains, names of streams, are all Austronesian-based. It's the same root language as those in Hawaii. And that's 15 time zones of the earth. And we're still trying to figure it out.
But Herb and Ben, what they did in the equation of renewal, they changed what we know about the earth, and they helped us be educated. Next slide. And then, they built this voyaging canoe, the vessel, the tool that we need. This is on a sacred beach of Kualoa the day before she was launched. Old slide.
I was there. Just born and raised in a Hawaiian family, but it was a very confusing time. Because back then, Hawaiian things weren't valued. But we had this powerful 62-foot voyaging canoe that was elegant and beautiful and was making a promise even though it didn't know how to do it.
And we drank alda that day, the traditional drink, and I didn't like it. Nobody told me what it was for. Everything's changing because you put the vehicle, the spaceship of our ancestors, on the beach. And I may just tell the story. It was a pretty rough road.
We launched it the next day. And when we launched it the next day, and we pushed it in the water, and I was thinking-- I'm young, I don't know. And I didn't say nothing to anybody else. I was just kind of hanging out. But I was there on the port side, that last crosspiece.
And we pushed the canoe. And I thought it wasn't going to go. It was going to get stuck in the sand, and it was so heavy. And it just slid right in the water, and then I was so shocked that I grabbed that crosspiece. I pulled up, and the whole canoe was empty except for our leaders in the deck. So I got off the canoe.
And then, we sailed the next day. And rough day. This is in Kane'ohe Bay. And true story, had about 30 of us on board the canoe. The canoe was low in the water, and we broke the two steering sweeps. There are no cleats to tie the rope, the sheet line. We didn't know what a sheet line was.
So we just made, like 50 half hitches. It'll hold-- until you go around in the sandbar, break your two steer sweeps, stuck in the sand. Captain says, everybody get off to lighten up the canoe. Everybody jumps off. But these sheets were still sheeted in.
We saw it taking off. And only the captain's on board, and a few of us got back on board. And we're watching all these people fall off the [INAUDIBLE]. I was going, wow, this is going to be a rough trip. Because we didn't know anything. All we had was the promise until-- next slide, and I'm going to go fast-- this man.
He created two miracles. It was a time when we didn't know how much we didn't know. So the notion of navigating by the stars to Tahiti-- just a notion. Even though we weren't honest, leadership felt we could do it ourselves. Extraordinarily dangerous. So the leadership was saying, let's just train ourselves and go to Tahiti. Yikes.
Just imagine if you're standing in Waikiki Beach on the sand, and you can see over the horizon to the eastern end of Tahiti against the western end-- the width of the island, it's less than one degree. It's a small target.
But a miracle. There was a Peace Corps worker by the name of Mike McCoy. Came to a leadership meeting in Honolulu, came inside the debate about navigating ourselves. And he just said, hey, you want a navigator, all you got to do is drive five miles down to Kewalo Basin, and there's a navigator on a ship called the Townsend Cromwell-- which is a research ship in the University of Hawaii-- teaching scientists at university to learn how to make traditional fish hooks to catch tuna.
His name is Pius 'Mau' Piailug He's not Polynesian. They're all gone. We know the road of extinction. And we're on the edge of the cliff right now. Mau comes from Micronesia, a small, tiny island. I wasn't there. I'm telling you a story of stories that I heard.
The group went to see Mau, told him about a project that is going to sail a voyaging canoe that wasn't fully constructed, a crew that wasn't selected. The voyage would be eight times longer than you've ever made on a canoe six times bigger. And they're going to go across the equator. You'll see new stars you've never seen, and you're going to lose your most important star, the North Star.
And they asked him if he would navigate. And the response was immediate. He could barely speak English, but he knew the word yes. And many would argue that it's obvious that he's a courageous man. He's a navigator. He's an adventurer. And he takes on challenges.
But I know Mau. Mau is a genius in many different things, but he was watching cultural corrosion and erosion taking place on his own islands. And if he doesn't participate in this attempt for Hawaiians to recapture and regain their own identity and culture and translate that to pride and dignity in a humble way and give it to your children, we're going to lose it. And so to me, the thing about Mau, the great navigator, was that decision was made from kindness and compassion for people that are trying to find their way.
Then he would go. And he did two amazing things. Next slide. This is his island, Satawal, in the Western Carolines and Micronesia. It's a little over a mile long, a half mile wide. The highest soil is eight feet. It's an atoll.
And the thing about this island, it has no lagoon. So the Spanish and the Germans and the Japanese and Americans had no reason to occupy this island because it had no military value. And so they left the school of navigation alone until the United States public school system would come in and say, well, this is the wrong education for your children.
And they would take the children off of here and put them on an island called Woleai while they're in the elementary years. The key years to learn nature is when you're young. And so that was the key educational disaster, when the young were taken from their elders.
And so in the end, Mau would be of master rank. And just let me make it really clear. This is not a statement of humility. It's the truth. If I were to look at what grade level I'm in as a navigator, I'm in kindergarten compared to him, mainly because he was trained so young, and I was not. It's the kinship, the nature, that needs to be connected when you're young.
But he was one of six masters and the youngest. When you look at Mau, you're seeing the edge of extinction. And you can see the desperation of trying to make voyaging succeed. He would tell me, if there are no navigators anymore, we will be people no more. And so he came. And next slide.
And this would be his task. Hawaii is up on the top, and Tahiti's down on the bottom. Next. This is just the theoretical line that you've got to sail in across the world's two consistent biggest wind systems, where they collide in the equator, where there's high evaporation rates-- it's hot over there-- into an area the Europeans call the doldrums. The scientists called it Intertropical Convergence Zone.
Nevertheless, where these collide, you have the rainiest and cloudiest place on Earth. It is very hard to sail with the stars through those clouds and then to hit that tiny little island down there. Next slide.
This is an old slide. It's three days out, 17 on board. That first voyage out of Honolua Bay, Maui, May 1, 1976. Amazing. An amazing crew. And Mau was the leader. And this is three days out, when they tacked all around the Big Island to get east enough.
And then, make a really long story-- amazing story-- short-- next slide-- 31 days later-- next slide-- arrival. I was there. I was somehow kind of a banana guy but was selected for the crew to take the canoe home. And I, in truth, when I got there, I had to climb the monkeypod tree to see the canoe coming.
And we had to go and ask the children that loved this canoe-- they all jumped on it-- they were sinking the stern, there were so many of them. And in English, we politely asked them to get off. And they speak Asian. And to protect our home--
But this is the moment when everything changed. Everything changed-- history, stories, relationships, family, ancestral family. And it was Mau. That was one miracle. Next slide.
The other miracle would be when we would ask him to teach us to find the way. I intentionally didn't bring him in the room, but I am going to do it without the slide. Hoo, man. We know tragedy because of ignorance.
Anybody in this room know Eddie Aikau? You need to google him. We lose him. We know that we don't know how to do what we need to do. We go back and ask Mau to come back to teach us, without understanding that you're breaking a kapu, without understanding that navigation is a power, it's sacred, and it's not let out-- not only outside the culture or the language, it's not even out of your island.
And even inside the island, navigation is secretly passed only through the family lines. Now these guys from Hawaii say, will you come teach us? And he struggled with that for months. And it's a long story I'm not going to tell. But eventually, I'd get a phone call from his son. He says, Mau's going to be at your house tomorrow. And yeah.
He would take us by the hand like children and drag us through the window of time into the old world. And nobody could do that. Without the teacher, we would end up in failure. And the danger of failure in the time-- failure was expected because it was Hawaiian.
Hawaiians are-- many kinds of issues of its identity. But part of it is you're going to fail more and succeed less. This project was doomed, in the minds of the largest society, to fail because it was us. And so Mau came, essentially, to save us.
Then he would come and train us for nearly 30 months. We would sail 3,000 miles in Hawaiian ocean water before we would sail on our own. Then he would come back in three decades and just keep staying with us. That is the definition of the teacher.
And I don't, cannot, speak about what we do without bringing them in the room. Because what we do is only because we were with them. And there's hundreds of them that I didn't bring into the room because we don't have time. But he has to be here. Next slide.
Yep. He would put dream back into this canoe and purpose and inspiration. And it had gravity. It had built community, and it needed to move this canoe. We understand the power of vision and understand that we navigate by common values-- the whole-- very important steps for success. Next slide.
We would sail. And we would sail far. Next slide. And essentially, we would sail to recapture our culture and our traditions, bring pride and dignity back to this culture that deserves it, especially to elders and give it to children so that they are going to know a much different world than the one that we grew up in.
And I would argue that that really had-- Mau had a huge, and Hokule'a, had a huge part of what we call renaissance in Hawaii. It's a kind of peaceful way to talk about revolution. And it changed everything.
And the things that it changed are the most important. It changed our schools. Hawaiian language first language. Hawaiian culture is mandatory in the schools.
Coming in, you have to be proficient in language and in culture. Otherwise, you don't graduate. So we have Hawaiian immersion schools. And the list goes on and on. It's about the revolution in a kind way. Next slide.
And then, this'll be the last teacher I'll bring in. Best friend-- Hawaii's greatest explorer by far. He'd be Hawaii's second astronaut after we lost Ellison Onizuka in the tragedy of Challenger. His name was Lieutenant Colonel Lacy Veach-- best friend. And he's, I don't know, 10 years older than me.
So when I would go and take my little slides to the elementary schools and go talk to kids, you walk in the door, and there's this six-foot, life-sized cardboard picture of him in his spacesuit glued on the wall. I never met him. I would ask the children, well, who's that? And everybody knew his name. Everybody loved him because he's willing to go, and heroic.
So he became my virtual hero because I never saw, I never met, him. But then he went to Punahou. So Punahou had this event at the Waikiki Shell. It's that big amphitheater with all the grass. Everybody sits on the grass.
And they had all these alumni. It was the 150-year anniversary of the opening of the school. And all these alumni got up there one at a time and kind of told everybody how good they were because they were alumnis from Punahou. It was a little nauseating, but it was OK.
But Lacy was the keynote, the last speaker. So-- true story-- I didn't want to pay to go to that event. So behind the shell but where the amphitheater is, I climbed the fence-- jump over the fence-- no security. And then, I wanted to go see him close. And so the back door to the place, the shell thing was open.
So I went in the back door. And they had these curtains where they were lined up in the sides. And I went into the curtains and just stood there. Nobody was at that back door. Nobody knew who I was. Nobody cared.
And then, he arrives in a five-door white limousine. The car should not be on the road. He has a white tuxedo, black bow tie. Fighter pilot. He was the lead pilot for the Thunderbirds-- best in the world. He flew for his country, went to the NASA space program. That was his dream.
And he comes in. He walks by-- type A fighter pilot-- walks right by me, by the wing, the side that I was on, and he goes right to the podium. He shows a video of the earth from Columbia. And standing ovation. And he walks right by me when he goes away.
And I said, wow, that was awesome. I got to see my hero in real life and not cardboard. And true story, the next morning at 6:30, a staff member from the governor's office-- I don't know how they got my number, nobody calls me from the governor's office-- so calls me and says, Lieutenant Colonel Lacy Veach wants to go sailing with you today.
How did he know? We were training for a trip to Rarotonga in Hawaii. Our place that we trained was at the old Dole cannery, a dilapidated building at Pier 39. That was the only space the state would give us. And I was thinking, what? You got the world's-- you got Hawaii's greatest explorer want to come on Hokule'a.
He says, yeah. He wants to come sail with you guys today. And I was smart enough to tell him, OK. Why don't you tell the colonel to come at 9:00 in the morning, even though the crew is coming at 8:00? Good move, Nainoa. Because I go down to the crew, and our crew are just regular-- regular people.
And so I go down and say, hey, you guys. They had no idea Lacy's coming. I said, hey, my hero's coming today. I want to ask you a favor-- because I was the captain for the day. I said, hey, can you put on some slippers, and a T-shirt, and can you speak the best English you can? My hero's coming.
And then, sure enough-- true story, true story. He arrives on this old dock in his mother's rusted DeSoto. And he gets out of the car, and he starts walking to us. And he's barefoot, ripped shorts, and no shirt.
And he was just so intimidating. So I don't know what happened, but I couldn't talk. So he gets on the canoe. I don't talk. Everybody's looking at each other. They don't talk. And Lacy's standing there by himself.
And so he was the one that first said, he goes-- he goes, thank you, thank you, thank you for letting me come sail on Hokule'a today. Because today, I'm going to understand the definition of what it is to explore.
And he rubbed the [INAUDIBLE] wood on the canoe just gently, with a lot of love, on that canoe. And he rubbed it. And I stepped back, and I said, whoa, man. This is going to be a good friend. This is going to be a good friend. Next slide.
Yeah. So by coincidence, that trip, we were training for Rarotonga. We're coming back from Rarotonga to Hawaii in October of 1992. By coincidence-- by coincidence-- next slide-- he'd be in Columbia again, flying.
So we're going four miles an hour. It takes us two months to get home. He's doing six miles a second, and going around the earth in 90 minutes-- a very powerful perspective of the island, our only home.
So he conjures up this crazy plan about-- I know. Come on. Let's help children understand the power of exploration and have them create their own voyages. But they've got to explore. And so, true story-- next slide-- so he flies me to Houston with the educational committee.
They don't get it. He gets frustrated. And so our antennas, they come in two different signals. We couldn't mix. We couldn't connect to the shuttle. So I was told that he stole his radio out of his fighter in Ellington Field, got some engineer to hook it up.
And then, I sailed, and he flew. We had six minutes of time when our two antennas could see each other that we could connect. And our technology was so old, the single sideband radios that bounces the signal over the atmosphere, and it goes to a place called [? Pisat ?] in the University of Hawaii. But if the bounce is wrong, it'll miss the antenna.
And so we have six minutes to connect. We had it all set up. All the children were waiting. And true story-- so we did the test to call [? Pisat, ?] Hawaii. And we'd bounce a signal across the atmosphere, and nobody answers. And Lacy's coming at six miles per second, right? And the antennas need to see each other.
True story-- there's a real good friend in Cook Islands-- his name is Stuart Kingman-- who had his own personal antenna and radio-- that worked as a volunteer for [? Pisat. ?] A hurricane a decade before this knocked the antenna. And all the grass is growing over the antenna in his backyard. But that was our backup-- antenna in the bushes. And we can't get hold of Honolulu.
We call Stuart Kingman loud and clear. So we call Stuart. He sends it by phone line to Pasadena. Lacy's goes to Houston. Another phone line mixes it and sends it back by phone line to about 35,000 school kids. Next slide.
That's him talking to our kids about the power of exploration. Amazing man. And he was a mentor. He was best friend. And he should be here. That's why I bring him. Next slide.
He goes, hey, Nainoa, I got a present for you. I'm going to bring it back from space. Cockpit window, top of the edge of the earth on the top. That's the island of Hawaii on the bottom. You can't really see it, but there's kind of a red spot on the slopes, at 12,500-foot elevation, on that powerful mountain called Mauna Kea.
And 35,000 years ago, there was an eruption. There was a very colder time, and the glacier was thick, and it supercooled that stone. So it made-- that stone is an adze that his grandfather gave to Lacy from that place called Keanakako'i.
And Lacy-- you don't take hard, heavy, sharp objects into zero gravity. So he stows it away on the shuttle-- weight is a big issue, by the way-- floats it in the window, takes a photograph about sustainability. Because this man loved his home. But his home was the Hawaiian Islands and the Island Earth.
He said, there's an equation we need to crack, an equation we need to figure out. There's a code we've got to crack. And that is you need to look at the ancestral knowledge of people who lived over 2,000 years. The adze was that kind of technology that built voyaging canoes.
But you also need to couple that with the best of our technology that we have-- science and technology. But he said, the key piece is not the power of science and technology. What navigates science and technology?
And he's always meaning it needs to be about the goodness of who we are as people. Kindness and compassion counts. That's why Mau and Lacy are essentially the same. Kindness and compassion counts. Next slide.
He was wild. So Julie, we would take our calendar books and cross out one day. And these books would govern your life, man. And that day was kapu. Nobody could take it away. And I'll meet you in Hilo.
So he'd come from where he was. I'd fly to Hilo. We'd rent a car and illegally drive it up the slopes of Mauna Loa. And we'd drive on top of the lava at 6,000-foot elevation to go on the black rock that absorbs all light-- bring the stars close.
And so we would go once a year, be on the black lava with the commitment that we're going to connect the shuttle program with the voyaging program, help young people to believe that they can explore and change the world. And so we would go up there.
And inevitably, it would begin with all optimism, excitement, positive-- next slide-- until the conversation went to the Island Earth, the only one we've got. He would begin and say, I know. You have no idea how beautiful the Island Earth is when you can see the whole thing from space. You have no idea how extraordinary and complex and rare life is.
And the only place that we know of that has life is this planet and this island. How come we don't take care of it? And then he would talk about, we take the shuttle to the nearest next solar system, Alpha Centauri, 4.3 light years away. It'd take you 200,000 years to get there. Then you'd say, hey, then you've got to have the fuel to stop it and turn around and fly home-- a round trip of 400,000 years.
But it was just saying space is big. This island is rare. Protect it. It is the genesis of the starting to change from cultural revival to environmentalism, to sustainability-- all these kinds of issues and these words that we don't understand, that were starting to creep up in a new language-- climate change, sustainability, turning up the thermostat that'll melt polar caps and raise our oceans.
It was happening. But we didn't know enough to know enough to care. He was the one that shifted voyaging. He is the one that's why we're here today. We are finding our teachers. Thank you, Julie.
When he started talking about what we're doing to the earth, I would physically-- he would get so angry-- he was the most optimistic human being, the most optimistic human being. We talk about staying positive. That guy-- that's all he was until he could not figure out the code or the solution for the problems on the earth.
This is 1992. And he would be enraged on the lava rock. And I would physically have to hold him to calm him down and settle him down. Next slide. Because he knew. He knows what we're doing to the earth, as a scientist, as an astronaut. Next. And it's us. Next slide.
This is a key slide. Julie, this is for you because your home is there. On his last flight into space-- he didn't tell me the story. Sometimes stories are too emotional. But it was his partner, an astronaut called Bill Shepherd, who became the commander of International Space Station, 2000. He was the first commander when it became fully operational.
So they were mission specialists. And they have very, very rigid working time and sleeping time. Lacy was stuck on the wall with Velcro, with goggles on. And Bill saw the inertial navigation system, and he knew-- he knew-- that Lacy's home was going to be coming up in the golden dawn of the shuttle sunrise.
Breaks protocol, scrapes Lacy off the wall, floats him to the cockpit window, takes the goggles off. And Bill tells me this story. He just said, it was quiet and calm and Lacy, the fighter pilot, goes, that's it. That's it. This is the place. This is the place.
And he told Bill, this is the place where we need to figure out how to create the laboratory to figure out all the challenges and test them and then create the school. That was Lacy's vision. And then, when he got home, we sailed on one of our voyaging canoes together. And he sat me down. And then, that's when Lacy started to talk.
He said, Hawaii is the place that has all what it needs to be able to do the research into all the issues that need to be integrated to come up with a sustainable plan. And then, if Hawaii can become the laboratory for success, and also the school, then, Lacy said, then it's going to have the greatest gift it can give to earth, and it's peace-- verbatim.
Lacy would tell me, you want to solve the energy problems in Hawaii? 100%. It's easy-- off the grid. You want food sovereignty? Hawaiians already figured it out. He goes through all the issues that we would need to do to figure out the code for sustainability. And he'd go through all of them.
But the one that was most impressive was the last one. He goes, with even all those things, the most important gift that Hawaii has to the world is that its cultures are diverse. And Hawaii is still kind.
So he plants the seed that culture is not defined by race. It's not defined by the bounds of geography or nationalism. It is really defined by values. Is the earth still kind? Is it still compassionate?
And he believed that Hawaii is. And that was the most important thing that he raised. So Lacy planted the seed. Next slide.
He says, and I know you cannot protect what you don't understand, and you won't if you don't care. And you can't do it by yourself. You need to take Hokule'a and go around the world. Hokule'a will be your vehicle to learn the earth. And the earth will be the vehicle to learn Hokule'a. When you take Hokule'a, you're taking all of Hawaii. Go around the world.
And then he would say, you need to go learn the earth. And you need to go find out one question. Is humanity still kind enough to change? And then he said, you can't do it by yourself. Find relationships. Find partners. Find friends out of strangers.
That's why we came, with that hope. That's why we're here. He planted the seed of a powerful idea. What he left in us was a belief that we could change the world. Next slide.
1995, in October. I get a phone call. Lacy was sick with cancer. Wife calls me up and says, you've got to come, Nainoa, now. Next day, I jump on a plane, fly to Houston, go into the astronaut's house.
There must have been 100 people in there. The lights are dim. Everybody was sad in the living room and the kitchen and everything else. And I don't know anybody. Very depressing. And I asked his wife, Alice, where's Lacy? She goes, he's hiding in the bedroom. He's waiting for you.
And so I go in there, and he's in his wheelchair because he had a lot of fluids-- very heavy. And he goes, hey, Nainoa, don't worry about this. I'm going to get over it. We've got too much to do. That optimistic person. He goes, but hey, can you get me out of here?
And so I'm a small guy. He's a big guy. And so I wheel him out, and everybody's watching me take him outside. And we get to the front door. He goes, no, no, no. I don't want to go out in a wheelchair. I want to walk. Can you carry me? Yikes.
And so I say, OK. We'll go. And so he puts his arm over my shoulder, barely alive, and take him down the steps and go down the sidewalks. You know where the sidewalk has that grass before the road. It's like, that's cement-- the sidewalk-- and there's grass, there's a curb, then there's a road.
So he's walking, and I'm holding him, and he slipped on the grass. He falls. He's falling. So I tried my best to get underneath him to protect him. He lands right on me. I lose my breath. I can't talk.
And he's laughing. It's the funniest thing ever. And I was gasping for air. And I couldn't get him off. And then he was just-- it's where miracles are born. He just-- he stops laughing and looks into the sky, and he tells me, you hear that?
I'm like, no. No, no, no. Do you hear the engine? And I listen. I say, oh, yeah-- this faint engine of an aircraft. And he starts telling me the kind of the engine that's up there and what kind of aircraft this is.
And then he stopped and goes, hey, Nainoa, show me Jupiter. I want to see Jupiter. So I'm in Houston. I grab his hand and point it up to the heavens, and I say, it's over here. Because I couldn't see it. He goes, I see it. I see it. And he was so joyous that he would see another planet in the sky.
The problem was it was daytime. Lacy's vision was so bad that he couldn't see. But it doesn't mean you can't see. And then, we lose him the following week from lympho melanoma when the flight surgeon should have picked it up.
And then, he left us the seed and the promise for Hokule'a to be active. But that was 1995. We plant the seed in 1992. For 16 years, leadership in Hawaii, we get together-- all the voyaging leaders-- and we have an agenda. Worldwide Voyage is on the agenda every year.
Every year, we start the agenda with, wow, this would be an amazing thing to do. What a voyage of all time. But not clear of the why you would go. Not clear of the why. Not enough clarity to go.
So when we start the debate the other side of the voyage-- the hurricane or the pirate or the mosquito or the human violence or the rogue wave of South Africa-- then we would all vote no. It's too dangerous to go. It's not worth the risk. You don't have a reason that's more compelling than the risk.
But the problem we had in our debates over the next 16 years-- another vote was taken on April 1, 2008-- when we all got together was the language-- acidification, hypoxia, coral bleaching, drowning islands-- famine to us-- having to move from their homeland of 3,000 years to a country they don't know.
Somebody else is going to buy it for them. Helpless. And the list of dangers and risks in this new language is starting to grow. We became more informed.
So there was a vote, Julie, on April 1, 2008. But the vote wasn't whether we should go or not. Because we had to already. We knew it instinctually. The vote was, what's more dangerous, the hurricane, the pirate, the mosquito, disease, rogue waves? Or what's more dangerous-- staying tied to the dock?
What's more dangerous? Because if we accepted to say no, with the new language and being informed, then we would have to not only tell ourselves but tell our children that we sail for-- or that we believe we sail for-- that we're going to be ignorant and apathetic and inactive.
And so we voted four times. And it had to be unanimous because we took everybody to do this. We voted four times. And we're going to go. We didn't know how. But we needed to go. The why was answered because of the dangers of the language. Next slide. Next slide.
Yep. 18 months, 32,000 recorded man hours, volunteer time, to redesign-- redesign-- and reshape and get Hokule'a prepared for the earth. Next slide. Training. Committed to succession and young leadership. These guys [INAUDIBLE] with it. We raised the bar on training. It was hard. Criteria was hard.
We didn't know how to recruit. We just said-- just word of mouth-- anybody want to go sail around the world? And 1,300 people signed up. We don't know who these people are. We don't know if they can swim. So we shut it down. And we trained for six years to get ready. It's all in the training. Next slide.
Built another voyaging canoe called Hikianalia. We made it in New Zealand-- Okeanos Foundation-- by the kindness by a German businessman by the name of Dieter Paulman. It's 10 feet longer than Hokule'a, about the same beam. But we did this intentionally because of the lessons of Lacy.
That photograph would represent-- the adze would be on Hokule'a, that we maintain our traditions, we sail it the old way, we navigate it the old way. But this canoe was a platform as an escort. It was a platform for a medical platform. It was a education platform. It was a documentation platform.
And our goal was to sail around the world without any carbon footprint. So we have 240 square feet of solar panels and then six big lithium batteries and two 15-kilowatt electric engines. So it was really powered by the sun. And we trained.
Actually, on the fifth year, our crews are ready. Our canoes are ready. It was time to go. Next slide. April-- end of April 2013. We're going to take off. But it's those kinds of times when you're so busy and crazy, the truth is kind of lost someplace. And so you just kind of ignore it in the business.
Except in the dream. It was mid-March, the kind of time-- 3 o'clock in the morning-- where you're in the dream, and then the next moment, you're sitting up, cold sweat, and saying, something's wrong. And what it was, the dream that I had was a girl-- it was in black and white, I couldn't see her face-- on the beach. And all the trees were killed behind her. And you're standing on the beach by yourself.
And so I thought and I thought about it that morning. And I said, you know, we can't go. We don't have permission. We don't have permission from our children in Hawaii. How do we know?
Because we didn't go to them to see whether they care, see if it matters. Do they even know Hokule'a? So we set a benchmark number saying, here's our goal-- if 5,000. So we canceled the voyage. And we went that summer-- next four months, five months-- to 32 ports, to about 72 communities, to see if the children cared.
If 5,000 kids would sign our logbook, that was permission to go. But it would be 32,000 children came in the summer months when they're not in school. So I was sensing that we're getting permission. But it was a single boy.
We go around all the Hawaiian Islands to all these ports. And one of the ports that we go to is called Poka'i. It's the port in the largest concentration of native Hawaiians on the earth-- the west side of Oahu, on the homestead lands. It's arguably, statistically, one of the roughest places, also. But we needed to be there with these children that need us the most that we typically serve the least.
So we anchored in Poka'i. Bay. A swell came up. We had to move Hokule'a way outside the harbor, outside the breakwater at night. And it was a big swell. It was rough. And then we'd bring it back in the daytime the next day. It was safe enough.
And it was about 11 o'clock at night in the black, way outside. This boy swims all the way out by himself-- strong enough to grab a catwalk four feet off the water and climb up by himself. He comes on the deck, soaking wet.
And you could tell that he didn't want to engage the crew, so he just curled up in a ball on the deck of Hokule'a by himself, just shorts on and soaking wet. And I knew he didn't want that engagement, so I told the crew, leave him alone. Just leave him alone.
And sunrise, he was gone. He didn't sign the logbook. But that was the moment I knew. It's time to go for those children that need it the most. What are we going to tell them if we don't?
I don't know the boy. We don't know his name, probably never will. But he was the one that gave us permission. Next slide. Next slide.
Yep-- 42,000 miles, 18 countries. It'd be about 32 ports we would stop. We had a crew of 226 that would sail 1,000 miles and more, all volunteers. 37 months-- long. Designed to stay out of the storm. Sometimes works, sometimes doesn't. Next.
We had crews from 11 Pacific nations. We had, actually, more than that from around the Pacific Rim. Next. That boy helped us understand, what's the real promise? It was a promise to children.
So we drafted a single page that superintendents and presidents of universities and the headmasters of top schools and the leadership from the public school system would sign on an agreement to values that children matter. It's about them. And so we're all focused on them. That was permission. So the 47 leaders in education all signed this document. Next.
And then, we left-- headed west and kept going till we came home. Around the Island. Next slide. Navigated the old way. Next slide. Committed to younger leadership. Next slide. Went to ancestral homelands first for permission-- to Kahikinui, to Tahiti. Next slide.
We continued through Polynesia. The secretary general of the United Nations sailed with us, and he signed a logbook. Next. But he gave us a bottle. And in the bottle was a handwritten note saying that you need to do the voyage. You do your part. I'll do mine. I'll bring the 127 nations together and focus on the protection.
The greatest environmental issue of this century is to protect the oceans. It defines everything-- chemistry, biology, wildlife, the rain that we take. 70% of what you breathe-- the next four breaths you take, three came from plankton. Kill the ocean, kill ourselves.
And so this bottle was that promise. And so we took it to build relationships with those around the world to commit to the doctrine of ocean protection by coming together. Next.
Aotearoa-- "Land of the Long White Cloud." Nga Toki Matawhaorua-- twice the length of Hokule'a. 88 paddlers came to greet us. We could hear them chanting before we could see them in the swells. Next.
Manaiakalani is one of the star lines of the six major star lines that we use to navigate by. Manaiakalani is Hawaiian. It's how we organize these 7,000 dots of light into some order so you can teach it and navigate by it.
This cluster of 11 schools is in the roughest, most so-called depressed community in all of New Zealand. There are 2,400 students came. You know how we greet, with a hug? Every child hugged Hokule'a.
And their whole premise is that they teach them to be grounded in who they are. They teach them technology so they can travel the world and be competitive with anybody else. But we teach them navigation so they know how to come home. Next slide.
Australia. Next slide. Sometimes I look at schools that I'm not so sure people are clear-- what's the purpose of schools in a changing world? Are we committed to the speed of change?
There are 320 schools in Northeast Australia that the single purpose of all of these schools is to protect the largest and oldest and most powerful single ecological system called the Great Barrier Reef. And their whole job from kindergarten to the sixth grade is to do that.
So a kindergartner grabs one finger, drags me around into a place where they are replanting corals and algaes, and they're restocking fish stocks. And they take us into the aviary place where they're helping wounded seabirds and sick turtles. These are elementary school kids.
When the school is clear about what they're for, then it makes everything starts to makes sense. And there are-- I don't know how many thousands of school kids there are-- that are designed for one purpose-- protect the largest and oldest ecological system on the earth.
Next slide. Ashmore Reef. Amazing, marine-protected areas. Next slide. Bad day. Yeah, me and my kind of ex-friend-- he's a photographer, a videographer. He goes, hey, Nainoa. We look down and with 60 feet of water-- we had scuba diving stuff, so-- He goes, hey. We got all these-- we call them uluas-- they're called jacks.
They're big predators, but they're not going to bite you. And they're in this sandpit. And so he goes, take one of these bottles, kind of like this. We fill it with water, so it won't compress. We go down the 60 feet.
We take it out. We fill it with air from the tank. And then he goes, yeah, just rub it, and make a noise that the fish never heard. So I rub the-- and these jacks are coming around, and the big black one would knock you over in the back. But they don't like your eyesight. They get behind you. They push you over.
So I'm dealing with all these fish. He comes over the top, grabs the bottle in my hand, and points up. And all these sharks that weren't there-- but they got good hearing-- and they all start to come. And we're just like-- so we're crawling on the bottom just trying to get to the anchor chain.
This is going up the anchor chain. And we take this photograph of what life is supposed to be-- the apex of the food chain. Hawaii, you'll never find this-- never find this in the main eight. You'll find it in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. But you'll never find this in the main eight. I cannot take my children to sea life in the oceans in their home anymore. That's got to change.
Bali. Yeah. We worked a lot with our governments to come together with waste and power programs in Hawaii. [INAUDIBLE] and they're adopting their-- Some of the places, so bad, you can walk on the rubbish in the ocean. Next slide.
Africa. Problem. It has no Panama Canal. We had to go around it. So you can go north through the Suez Canal. But you've got to pass Somalia and Yemen, and at the time when you had the refugees in the Mediterranean. It was the wrong time. And you had all the violence in the Middle East.
But the other problem-- you go south, you go into the most notorious rogue wave center on the earth. Rogue waves are dangerous. Anyway. We chose south because I'd rather deal with a storm than deal with violence I don't understand. Next slide.
Yeah. Strong winds against strong currents. The strongest western boundary current in the world. It's a dangerous place. Next slide. But in Bali there were a group of board members that said they weren't comfortable anymore about the safety issues about Africa.
So they talked to me and said, we want you to ship Hokule'a from Bali to Brazil. And then take away the risk. And to make a long story short, I said, OK, but if we do that, you're asking me to put it on a ship I don't know captained by someone I don't know with a crew I don't know from a country I probably don't know. I will do it because you're the board, but I quit.
Because essentially, what you're saying is that Hokule'a is not good enough, and we're not good enough. And you're essentially saying that Hawaii is not good enough. That's essentially what you're saying.
And so I get it on the safety issues. And so we debated it for a while. And ultimately, in the end, we chose to go with the belief that we're good enough in a humble way. We trained hard. Next slide. Next slide.
So we're in Mauritius. We go to Madagascar, right on the southern tip of Madagascar. And we know it's a dangerous place. We get to there, right at the southern tip. There's only one port that you can go in in the whole southeast, southwest safety ports.
So we've made all these safety ports. There's only one. But the harbor's open to the north. Winds are east 5 knots. It was flat at 5:00 in the morning. 7:00 the morning, it was north 50 knots and seas 10 to 12 feet.
I call the harbor master. We tell him, hey, we're not going to come in. He goes, I'm not going to let you in. 'Cause the swells come in the harbor. So we had to get around Madagascar.
But before we did, right after sunrise-- we call them stacking waves. Big waves go faster than small, and they get on top of each other. The hydraulic cycle was so big that the wave broke down on us on our starboard side, tore out 15 feet of our security canvas. And then, we had to turn downwind and get the nose of the canoe away from the wave and get around Madagascar.
So it was like, we're not even at South Africa yet, and we were getting pummeled. And it took-- it starts to test you, whether you can do this. And so we get around Madagascar. We get into the lee and the calm. The storm goes by. We continue to sail.
And I'll just say that we do navigate without instruments on this voyage maybe 50% of the time. On deep, cold, tropical weather, where we're not going to hit something, we train. But in this circumstance, where safety's way out, we were 100% instruments.
So we had meteorologists from South Africa, from India and Hawaii, as consultants. We were going to go to South Africa, but when we came on, they said there's a big storm coming through the south Atlantic. You need to hide.
And Richards Bay is a place that we were targeting. You can probably make Richards Bay. And so I said, by how much margin-- hours? So I said, well, what if the next forecast says we can't make it?
So we turned to Mozambique. We had no connection with them, no diplomatic ties. And when we get to Mozambique to a place called Maputo, and we go into the Maputo area, and they don't know us from-- what is this craft in Maputo? So they wouldn't let us in.
So I declare mayday. It's the international distress signal. And by law, by Maritime International, they have to take you. So there were entire settlements that were just broken piers where the Dutch left, and they blew up all these ships and metal all over the place and horrible anchorages.
And we went in there. We had no choice. And next slide. It was rough. It was like-- next slide. In Maputo, there was lightning every five to 10 seconds right to the ground. We couldn't get our crew off.
But there was a question that a student asked me today. When do you know that you're really ready to take on the hard things? It's when things are hard.
So anchored in Maputo. The current was 9 knots. Rain is at this delta coming down. The winds are 50 knots coming the other way.
The current was so strong, it turned the canoe around. We hydroplaned on our anchors and all this metal down below us. We hit another boat. We busted right through the hull of Hokule'a.
The rain is not vertical, it's horizontal. The anchors held. We lose the anchorage and run on rocks in 20 seconds. And we got no place to go. And our crew started to cry. They didn't cry because they were afraid of the storm. They cried because we hurt the canoe.
So we sat down. And this is the moment that I was angry-- my mistake, my fault. I'm the captain. And I just sat everybody down and said, do not ever let anybody define your identity by hurting Hokule'a. Your identity is going to be because you healed her. You got two days.
Our crew was so amazing-- lying on surfboards, working upside down, grinding with just sandpaper, having to borrow epoxy. And then the deal was, in that rainy night, was-- and the way that you're going to know that you are the best is to know that when this voyage is over, you'll bring your best friend down to the canoe, and you challenge him, go find the hole. And I bet they can't because you're that good.
And then, that was the moment that we were focused-- because of the crisis. A crisis is a place to grow or crush you. Next slide.
It would take us 61 days to go 900 miles, the slowest voyage ever, the longest voyage ever, because we hid from cold fronts every three months. We just hopped. Lehua did every single square inch of that research on that place to hide the canoe. We sailed around. 16 people died in other vessels when we were there because when we went in, they did not.
And we had the most amazing, amazing voyage-- the people, culture, place. And I'll just raise one thing, that Agulhas Point, NASA actually has a photograph of the circulation cyclonic-- it was clockwise-- of this enormous, enormous, hundreds and hundreds of miles across-- and some were saying it was 1,000 miles-- of this plankton bloom.
So much biology was in the ocean. It was like a giant, living storm. We didn't know, but we went right through it. And it would be lightning in the water, light everything up.
Every agitation in the water-- you see a single fish going through the oceans-- and that's when we knew, wow, the earth is so amazing. You can't protect what you don't understand. That's why you've got to be there.
And then we went to Cape-- around-- Agulhas, and there were the pods, that were feeding on this, of whales. They call them superpods-- 200 whales per pod or more. And they were just one pod after another, just life at its best amongst the places that we've hurt. So next.
Cape Town. Yeah. Next slide. Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 2013 came to Hawaii to pray for Hokule'a and to bless it. He was sick. And he said, I will be there when you arrive if you make it. And so I told him we would try.
And November 15-- whatever it was-- 2015, we would arrive in Cape Town. And his daughter and others are saying, he's really sick, and he hasn't made a single public appearance all year. But he's going to come tomorrow to the arrival ceremony.
He comes, and he was bundled up in the heat of South Africa with all these coats layered and a woolen cap on. And they put a couch down, tent. They lay him down because he couldn't walk. And then, they said, he's not going to speak. I said, we're just honored that he's here.
And then, he just laid there until we brought-- Randie Fong of Kamehameha Schools brought charter school students. He brought students from Kamehameha and from the public schools to be with the arrival, to be with the archbishop. And they had their Hawaiian Pahu, the drum. And some had their drums, but some had cracker cans.
The miles and miles of barbed wires that keep kids out of communities and lock them into schools-- the miles and miles of it. These poor children were there. And one African girl went up to one of the Hawaiian girls and said, can I borrow your Pahu? So the girl, of course, gave her the Pahu.
And she started to beat this drum and keep beating the drum. And one African child jumped up, starts dancing in the streets. And another comes, and there's all the children dancing in the streets. And then, they grab the Hawaiian children and drag them into the streets, and they were all dancing.
And then someone said, hey, Nainoa, you better turn around. I turn around, and there's Archbishop, standing up strong, proud, and dancing with the children in the street. Then I knew the voyage was worth it. It's worth it for a man who's protected 20 million children, all on his shoulders, by himself, for all those years, dancing in the streets.
Next slide. Yeah. Next slide. I know I'm way over time. America. We came in. We chose east or west Florida. We chose west to be with the alligator and to be with nature, to make the first photograph.
Next. NASA-- next-- to see my friend where he dreamed and where he worked. Next. New York. Next. Took back the bottle with 18 commitments from 18 countries back to the secretary general, said, we did our job. We kept our promise to protect the oceans.
Next. Panama. Next. Navigate to these new islands, the first islands we would see in the Pacific for over two years. Next. The Galapagos. Next. Galapagos, by law, restricts humanity to 1% of the land and the oceans. 99% is for nature. It's a part of the equation, by the way.
Next. Navigate to the next single-most isolated land, which is found by a navigator 1,400 years ago, Rapa Nui. Next. Homecoming. Next. Some of you were there.
It would be the single most viewed event in Hawaii's history. That's one thing that we're humble but proud of, the fact that the majority of the viewership wasn't from Hawaii and was watching it live on television. Next. And then, we come home.
Did it do anything? What it did was help us to learn to explore and to reconnect with young people, what our teachers and our principals did in Hawaii in terms of creating new revolutions of education and made clear what schools are for. Next slide. Yeah. Next.
Yep. It's all we've got. Next. A few more slides. Well, my voyage wasn't finished. California has 100,000 native Hawaiians. That's the second-largest population in the world. They asked Hokule'a to come on the Worldwide Voyage. We couldn't physically do it because we had to go to Panama Canal.
They wanted the Hokule'a to come up as part of this thing we're calling Mahalo Hawaii. We're sailing around the state right now and going to all our communities and thanking teachers and thanking community and thanking students. They wanted Hokule'a to go. We said, no, Hokule'a is tired. And leave her home.
But we took Hikianalia. So we designed the voyage to go up there. And that's when I found out how much I don't know about this canoe. Because it wasn't ready to go. I committed before. I didn't know it wasn't ready.
The crew was a fantastic crew, just kept training. But ultimately, in the end, we were 21 days late from departure. And we were invited to a global climate summit by Governor Brown that triggered Ocean Elders and triggered Amazon Collective. It triggered all these other events.
They wanted Hikianalia to participate. And by mathematics, we were too late. So the crew sat down and said, I know. We may be too late. But it doesn't matter if we make their arrival time.
What matters is that we're bringing a gift from Hawaii. It's the best we can bring you, and we're going to come anyway because we don't want you to think that we stopped. So even if we don't make the arrival, you need to know that the gift is coming, anyway.
So they took off. Next slide. Record time-- two days early. Next slide. It's the one I wanted to show you-- this. So diversity matters, right? Protection of new values. There's two stories. This crew of 13, we intentionally selected them. We brought on four of our senior sailors, not as command but to teach. The captain was 32 years old and would be a woman.
And it would be 2,900 miles, the longest nonstop voyage of the Worldwide Voyage. It would take you halfway to the North Pole, and you'll be in two weeks of very cold weather. Very difficult to navigate. We're training in succession, shoving people forward. Here's the four navigators. There was one who is incubator/accelerator/educator with Emerson, but she's born and raised in Korea.
And then, there's a sailor, another woman that is a sailor, and she is born from Japan, from Okinawa. Because this month, right here, they're going to be launching their first voyaging canoe-- Hawaiian-designed voyaging canoe-- first time ever in Japan. And she wants to learn enough about navigation to be a teacher. Bingo. That's part of scale.
The other navigator is a 23-year-old. He's from Tahiti, an island called Rongiroa. Tahitians, over 700 years, don't have a navigator. We're training this person to take Hokule'a, maybe next spring, back to Tahiti so Tahiti will have a navigator again.
And then, the fourth is a 19-year-old boy from Hawaii, a college student. So Korea, Japan, Tahiti, Hawaii-- intentional. It's the way we scale, not just the numbers, but we scale our values. People understand who we are, that race doesn't matter.
But if you look to the farthest to the right, that is the captain. The story is, behind her-- and I sailed them out the first 35 miles to help them trim off the North Shore Oahu. But I had a little boat that was going to take me back home.
And they're kind of like, don't go. We got clothes for you, and we got plenty of food. Because if I go, we'll keep it safe, we'll make it successful, but I will take it all away. I will take it all away.
They won't navigate. They'll wait for me to navigate. They won't command. They'll wait for me to command. And that was a really difficult moment to jump off the canoe.
Because I could see it in their faces, but I knew. It is your time. This is a very dangerous thing to do. But I knew if they were successful, it's going to change everything because of another story.
We were given a graduation, a few of us, by Mau and his island to take this thing called Pwo. It's never happened before. It's sacred stuff. But Mau was very sick. He was losing his eyesight. And we were sailing Hokule'a to his island to pay respect to him, and another canoe called Alingano Maisu that was built for him.
We receive a radio call from Pohnpei. They say, Mau wants to give you a Pwo. I get to Satawa. We go into the men's house. I tell him, I don't want to take it. I can't assume responsibility for something I'm not going to be at and I don't understand.
He goes, I'm not asking you. So Julie, I asked the question, OK, what is Pwo? What is this graduation means? So he took two days with an interpreter, and they actually typed up with solar panels-- a little tiny computer-- printed it. It was 13 pages of what the definition of Pwo is.
Everything is about skill. And it's like Mao said-- your graduating from college doesn't mean you know anything, but it's time for you to go by yourself. So it was permission to sail by yourself, except for the last paragraph.
The last paragraph, it said, to be Pwo is to be, when you go to sea, you bring gifts back to your people. When there is conflict, you resolve. If a bird is injured, you heal. And Pwo is the light, and the light is love. Bingo. That is the true navigator. You don't have to do it on the deck of canoes.
My house burned down, and I lost the document, but maybe that's OK. But I'll never forget the paragraph. Pwo is to be the light, and light is love. And you sail for that.
So that's why I didn't want to go. Because the next year, I went back to Satawa to say goodbye. It's such a remote place. I'm never going to see my navigator again. He knew it. I knew it. We don't talk about goodbyes.
We talk about, Mau, if we sail, are you with us? He said yes. Mau, if we do navigation, are you going to be there? He said, of course. I'm your teacher. And I said, OK. So we're going to sail. He goes, good. As long as we sail, you will be with us. He said, yes.
So the day before departure of this island-- his house is on the other side of the island, it's kind of far away-- we didn't say goodbye, but I went back to where the ship was. The next day, everybody was on the ship. Everybody's ready to go except for me.
And I'm wandering on the beach, kind of lost. I just couldn't think straight and just completely uncomfortable about things I don't understand. And everybody's calling me, and I know we've got to go. Pulling the anchor.
And I just ran. I just ran. And the more I ran, the stronger I got. And I ran, and I ran, and I ran back to his house, the last house on the island. His house is wooden, no screens, just open, tin roof. And his bed is plywood.
And he was sitting on his plywood bed waiting for me. So I come in there because I knew what the problem was. The day before, when I was with him-- we train those who deserve it the most. Those are the ones that work the most, irregardless of gender. But there are no women navigators in Micronesia.
So I had a problem. I needed permission to give Pwo to the ones that deserve it the most. And let me just say this-- women are better students than men. They just are. I don't know what it's about.
But anyway, we had some very powerful women in Hawaii that were just-- they deserved the right of command. So I asked Mau the day before we left, Mau, can I give Pwo to a woman? And he's the guy that breaks all the rules, right? And that's why he's at the end of the island. But this time, he immediately, he said no. No.
I didn't even debate. I didn't want to question him. I just stepped back. He said no. So I left that day knowing that I have a huge problem of equality, of equity, about being fair, being honest. Because I don't have permission.
So that's why I ran the next day. I ran back to go see him. I didn't bring it up. I came in. I looked through that window with no screen. It's a hot, hot day. And I could-- this black silhouette of him sitting on the plywood. I come inside, and he was just waiting.
And the first thing he said, he goes, hey, Nainoa, you like give Pwo to the wahine? And I said, yes. Then, to break the kapu, to allow the right thing to happen, to give permission, he goes, OK. It's up to you.
So what he did was-- he couldn't do it. He couldn't step over that line. But I can. So the captain of this canoe is 32 years old-- was five years old-- born and raised in New York, parents both Hawaiian, wanted her and her five sisters to learn Hawaiian culture and language-- went back to Hawaii.
They don't have enough financial support to put them in private schools, so they put them into the public schools but happen to put them into the first opening of the first Hawaiian immersion language school ever. And would graduate with the first class ever.
The right thing to do as part of renaissance, as part of Hokule'a's journey to change this education. Graduates from Kamehameha Schools, graduates from the University of Hawaii in mechanical engineering, speaks four and a half languages, plays classical violin. You want me to go on on her resume?
Did all six years of research on this assessment for the voyage to keep us safe and really was the one that was most prepared to take that canoe, Hikianalia. 2,900 miles, 23 days-- record. And the reason why, amongst all the fear and all the doubt, that I kept shoving this crew up there to go-- because I knew the risks.
But I knew that we had to do this because the success of this voyage was not Lehua's. It's everything that Lehua stands for, that every single child in Hawaii should grow up knowing that they have access, that equality matters, that they're going to be protected, they're going to be cared for.
And that's part of what I believe is sustainability, of your values, your beliefs, the things that are right. So yes, we break the kapu. But we break it for every child to grow up thinking that this world is equal, and it's good enough for them.
Next slide. Yep. I know it's up to you-- permission. Next slide. I'm not going to go into detail, but we're planning a new voyage. Protect the oceans, put the Hawaiian star compass on the map.
We pulled up on Google Earth to find out when can you see the boundaries of Antarctica and Alaska and Chile and China. You've got to go up-- really interesting-- you've got to go up 40,000-- not feet, miles-- to see the edges of the land of this magnificent ocean-- half the saltwater in the world, one third the surface of the earth.
And it is the engine of our climate. it's the engine of our chemistry of the earth. This amazing living system is protected by the oceans. It deals with carbon. I mean, the list could go on and on.
So the Worldwide Voyage is about exploration. This Worldwide Voyage is trying to connect people to touch the oceans and come up with some kind of way that we're going to be responsible for the future of this planet by protecting the oceans. And so it's longer than the Worldwide Voyage in distance and time.
It's 47 countries and archipelagos. We're going to need a lot of crew members. And we're planning to take off in May of 2021 and come back home on 2025, for Hokule'a's 50th birthday-- half a century sailing. Next slide.
This slide's for you, Julie. There's a parallel voyage. Wanted us to go around the Pacific, but you're going to take an enormous amount of resources away and disconnect. We're looking at taking children around our special home called Hawaii and having them answer the question why it should be protected.
And this is the island of the laboratory that Lacy knew. This is the island. You want to pick a single place on the earth? My humble opinion, it's right here. All the geography's there. All the rich ecological system is there. Hawaiian culture is best understood here. And it's still wild.
And that parallel voyage is the one that I want to go on with young people, take them around every square inch of all of our islands while we're doing the other voyage. Because we need to make these canoes be connected between our home here and the home of the earth. Next. Last slide.
I don't know what to say to thank you for your brilliance, your genius, your commitment, We're looking for the world's great navigators, and they're sitting in the front row. We need you to help show us the way. Our children need you.
It's been an honor for the last 36 hours of being here to be with all of you. I will never be able to thank you enough. But if we have permission, we'll sail for you, what you believe and what you stand for.
And the thing about-- I saw the most-- about the Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability is your courage-- courage to be honest and courage to do the right thing, even though you don't know how to do it. So on behalf of our team-- I know I talked too much-- we'll never thank you, and we're just very, very deeply grateful. And just a privilege to know you. Mahalo.
This presentation is brought to you by Arizona State University's Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. For educational and non-commercial use only.