An estimated 2,000 people gathered in New York on Sunday to welcome the Hokule‘a voyaging canoe and her crew to the Big Apple.
The Hokule‘a is in New York “to bring the voyage to the United Nations” for this year’s World Oceans Day on Wednesday. The theme this year is “Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet.”
The Hawaiian voyaging canoe arrived in North Cove Marina on Saturday, a day earlier than planned due to rainy weather and dangerous water conditions expected Sunday. Local officials and Native American tribes helped welcome the crew along with hula halau and dignitaries from Hawaii who traveled to New York for the occasion.
“There is something special that this canoe carries on behalf of our home that I think this world not only respects, but needs,” master navigator and Polynesian Voyaging Society President Nainoa Thompson told the crowd. “This day of celebration is really the step we need to give us strength to go to the United Nations on behalf of all of the people who are doing their part to be responsible for our island home called Earth.”
The crew “will bear witness to the immense need to care for our oceans and share stories of hope they have witnessed during their journey around the world thus far,” the group said in a news release.
Since departing from Hawaii in May 2014, the Hokule‘a has sailed some 26,000 miles through five oceans and to 27 countries in the first two years of its ongoing global voyage, dubbed “Malama Honua,” which the Polynesian Voyaging Society translates as “caring for Island Earth.” Its message has been one of promoting sustainability and environmental consciousness as well as exchanging ideas with the countries visited.
So far, crew members have connected with more than 45,000 people in communities across the South Pacific, Tasman Sea and Indian Ocean including Samoa, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Mauritius, South Africa, Brazil and the eastern coast of North America.
“We are sailing to New York not just to share Hokule‘a and her inspiring legacy, not just to share these stories of great navigators and bring to light the issues facing our oceans and people,” Thompson said in a statement. “We are sailing to deliver declarations from people and places that are dedicating themselves towards action and commitment.”
On Wednesday, Thompson is scheduled to present U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Palauan President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. with “ocean protection declarations” from around the world that have been presented to the crew during the worldwide journey.
That evening the U.N.’s Division of Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea will host a reception featuring performances by Jack Johnson, Paula Fuga, Chucky Boy Chock and Brother Noland. At sunset the Empire State Building will be lit in white, blue and purple to represent the different layers of the ocean.