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Strong winds detour voyaging canoes

  • The voyaging canoe Hokule'a arrived at Swain's Island Friday. (Maui Tauotaha / Polynesian Voyaging Society)
The voyaging canoe Hokule'a arrived at Swain's Island Friday. (Maui Tauotaha / Polynesian Voyaging Society)
The voyaging canoe Hokule’a arrived at Swain’s Island Friday. (Maui Tauotaha / Polynesian Voyaging Society)

The voyaging canoes Hokule‘a and Hikianalia are on Swains Island this weekend after strong winds led navigators to detour from the original plan of journeying to Fakaofo, Tokelau.

Under the guidance of master navigator Nainoa Thompson, apprentice navigators Jenna Ishii and Lehua Kamalu used traditional wayfinding to guide Hokule‘a and Hikianalia since leaving Apia, Samoa, on Sept. 6.

Swains Island is an atoll in the Tokelau chain, but is administered by the United States as part of American Samoa. The other three small atolls that are part of Tokelau — Nukunonu, Fakaofo, and Atafu — are administered by New Zealand.

The crew is talking with community members about the effects of climate change on the area, according to a news release from the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

The Tokelau atolls are between 6 and 16 feet above sea level.

Hokule‘a and Hikianalia are four months into an ambitious four-year voyage around the world. The so-called Malama Honua worldwide voyage began on May 17 when the canoes left Hono­lulu en route to Rangiroa in the Tuamotu Archipelago.

The canoes have since made stops in Tahiti, the Society Islands, the Cook Islands, Samoa and the Phoenix Islands in Kiribati.

Earlier this month, Ishii and fellow crew member Eric Co participated in the United Nations Small Island Developing States Conference in Apia, Samoa. Before the event, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon took a ride aboard Hokule‘a and presented a message in a bottle, which he directed the crews to deliver to U.N. headquarters in New York in 2016.

The canoes are expected to return to Pago Pago, American Samoa, in a few days. The canoes will next head to Vavau and Nukualofa in Tonga before journeying to Kermadec Islands, a group of islands northeast of New Zealand.

The New Zealand leg of the voyage will take an estimated five months and will include stops in Waitangi, Mangonui, Hokianga, Manukai, Kawhia, New Plymouth, Whanganui, Poirua, Wellington, New/Golden Bay, Napier, Gisborne, Cape Runaway, Whakatane, Maketu, Tauranga, Coromandel, Auckland, Whangarei, Waitangi, Whangaroa and Aurere.

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