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Reflections on the First 20 Years of Hōkūleʻa

by Brea Aamoth on April 14th, 2015

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‘Imiloa Astronomy Center presents the wayfinding talk Voices from the Wa‘a: Reflections on the First 20 Years of the Hōkūle‘a on Friday, April 24, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. This program will feature Gordon Pi‘ianāi‘a, the captain of Hōkūle‘a on its pivotal 1980 voyage, during which he and Nainoa Thompson and others became the first Hawaiians in some 600 years to locate Tahiti without using modern navigational tools.

Enjoy this night of storytelling from a veteran Hōkūle‘a crew member, as Pi‘ianāi‘a recounts the first twenty years of the Polynesian voyaging renaissance.

Pi‘ianāi‘a spent 20 years sailing and voyaging on the Hōkūle‘a, serving as first mate on her 1976 voyage from Tahiti to Hawai‘i and also as Captain on the 1980 and 1985 voyages. Pi‘ianāi‘a was one of the early pioneering leaders in the formative years of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, serving both as co-chair of the Education Committee and also as a board member. Today he continues to work to perpetuate and revitalize the art of wayfinding and navigation through his involvement with the ‘Ohana Wa‘a, a consortium of Hawai‘i’s voyaging organizations, canoe leadership and crews.

Captain Gordon Keawe-a-Heulu Keli‘imaika‘i Pi‘ianāi‘a is a retired U.S. Naval Reserve Officer, educator and community leader. He was born in Honolulu to a family noted for its mariners and geographers. His father Abraham was a master mariner who introduced him to the sea when he was five by taking him sailing on inter-island ships. His brother Norman, a graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy, retired from a career as a senior ship’s master at Matson Navigation.

The Pi‘ianāi‘a family have all participated in Hōkūle‘a’s voyages. A graduate of the Kamehameha School for Boys, Gordon received his Bachelors of Science in Nautical Science from the California Maritime Academy, and later conducted graduate studies in Geography at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, joining his father Abraham and sister ‘Ilima in the Department of Geography.

‘Imiloa’s wayfinding programs are made possible through generous title sponsorship from Matson.

The program ticketing is $10 for non-members and $8 for members (member level discounts apply.) Tickets may be pre-purchased at the ‘Imiloa front desk or by phone, using Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or JCB, by calling (808) 969-9703 during regular business hours. Tickets are non-refundable.

‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i is located at 600 ‘Imiloa Place in Hilo, off Komohana and Nowelo Streets at the UH-Hilo Science and Technology Park. For more information, go to, or call (808) 969-9700.


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