Story: Canoe navigation

Navigating by the stars

In the early 1970s members of the Polynesian Voyaging Society in Hawaii searched for Polynesians who remembered traditional navigation techniques. At first they thought there was no one, but they eventually tracked down Mau Piailug from the island of Satawal in Micronesia, who could navigate the open ocean without instruments. He guided the Hōkūle‘a from Hawaii to Tahiti and back using a star compass, shown here. Mau Piailug shared his knowledge with Nainoa Thompson, who became the first Polynesian in centuries to use celestial navigation on long-distance ocean voyaging when he repeated the journey in the same vessel in 1980.

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How to cite this page:

Rāwiri Taonui, 'Canoe navigation - Ocean voyaging', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 20 April 2024)

Story by Rāwiri Taonui, published 8 Feb 2005