Nainoa Thompson, navigator for the Polynesian Voyaging Society, has inspired and led a revival of traditional voyaging arts in Hawai’i and Polynesia-arts which have been lost for centuries due to the cessation of such voyaging and the colonization and Westernization of the Polynesian archipelagos.
In 1980, Thompson became the first Hawaiian and the first Polynesian to practice the art of wayfinding on long distance ocean voyages since voyaging ended in Polynesia around the 14th century. Thompson has developed a system of wayfinding, or non-instrument navigation, synthesizing traditional principles of ancient Pacific navigation and modern scientific knowledge. This system of wayfinding is being taught in schools throughout Hawai’i the Pacific. In addition to being a navigator, Thompson is a leader with a vision, and a charismatic, spell-binding storyteller. The following accounts of the revival of voyaging and navigation in moddern times, the history of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, and the Society’s long-range vision and mission for rethinking the future of Hawai’i, is presented, as much as possible in Thompson’s own words-from his interviews, talks and writings.