Forgot your password? | Register Here
 

Nainoa Thompson, FN ‘15

Nainoa Thompson is the President of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and a master in the traditional Polynesian art of non-instrument navigating. Inspired by his kupuna, his teachers, he has dedicated his life to exploring the deep meaning of “voyaging.” Among many other important mentors, Yosio Kawano took him at an early age to tide pools to explore the mysteries of the inshore ocean; Herb Kane introduced him to the stars his ancestors used to navigate great ocean distances; and pwo navigator Mau Piailug taught him to see the natural signs he would use to guide Hōkūle’a, a replica of an ancient Polynesian voyaging canoe, throughout Polynesia. Nainoa’s father taught him the universal values of voyaging – of having a vision of islands rising from the sea, of self-­‐discipline, preparation, courage, risk-­‐taking and the spirit of aloha that would bind a crew on arduous journeys.

On long voyages, under a dome of stars and surrounded by the vast empty ocean, Nainoa came to appreciate the Hawaiian concept of “mālama” – of care taking. “Our ancestors learned that if they took care of their canoe and each other,” he has often told his crew, “and if they marshaled their resources of food and water, they would arrive safely at their designation.” Astronaut Lacy Veach, who observed the Hawaiian Islands from space, helped Nainoa understand “mālama” from a planetary perspective. “The best place to think, about the fate of our planet is right here in our islands,” Veach told Nainoa. “If we can create a model for well-being here in Hawaii we can make a contribution to the entire world.” From all these teachings comes the next great voyage of exploration – Hōkūleʻa’s journey around the world to “mālama honua” – care for the planet. 

Nainoa is the recipient of numerous community awards, including the Unsung Hero of Compassion, awarded to him in 2001 by His Holiness XIV Dalai Lama on behalf of the organization Wisdom in Action; and the Native Hawaiian Education Association’s Manomano Ka ‘Ike (Depth and Breadth of Knowledge) Educator of the Year Award. He currently serves as a member of the Ocean Elders and leads Hōkūle’a’s world spanning “Mālama Honua Voyage.”

Back to top
The Explorers Club ®, World Center for Exploration ®, The Flag and the Seal are registered trademarks of The Explorers Club. Use by others is strictly prohibited. Photographs appearing on this website are used by permission and may not be copied or re-used in any manner.

Background image photography courtesy of members Christoph Baumer, Neil Laughton, Matt Harris and Don Walsh's image of the Bathyscape Trieste