Voyage into the Past

by Mark Zeug

East-West Center Magzine

Publisher: Honolulu: East-West Cemter
Publication Date: Spring-Summer 1976
Binding: electronic
Pages: 10
Free Download: PDF


This excerpt from the Spring-Summer 1976 East-West Center Magazine chronicled the East-West Center's involvement with the Polynesian Voyaging Society and the 1976 voyage of the Hōkūle'a to Tahiti.

Founded in the early 1970s, the goal of the Polynesian Voyaging Society was to prove the existence of, and to revive, the ancient tradition of long-distance canoe voyaging without the use of mechanical instrumentation—in other words, navigation by the stars, ocean currents, and other natural phenomena. The Society built the canoe Hōkūle'a, or "Star of Gladness" and sailed to Tahiti in 1976.

East-West Center research associate and University of Hawaii anthropology professor Ben Finney co-founded the Polynesian Voyaging Society in 1972 with Hawaiian cultural expert Herb Kawainui Kane and "scientist-surfer" Tommy Holmes. The East-West Center gave substantial support in the form of fellowships, staff time, and money to preparations for the first (1976) voyage to Tahiti.

  • Bicentennial Voyage of Rediscovery
  • The East-West Center Contribution
  • Steering by the Stars
  • "Star of Gladness"


"The cultural significance of the voyage, along with the scientific nature of experiments involved makes it a natural concern of the Center. It is multi-national, multi-cultural, and multi-disciplinary. And it involves extensive institutional and community cooperation. All these add up to increased cultural understanding, and that's what we're all about.."

EWC VP J. Brownell 1976