(PAGO PAGO--Oct. 8, 2014)--While the Hawaii-based Polynesian Voyaging Society’s vessels Hokule'a 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, Oct. 2, 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 Hokule'a, Hikianalia or both. They 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 Hokule'a 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 Hokule'a 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 Hokule'a, 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 Hokule'a 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 learnedfirst 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. 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 Hokule'a 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.