Ho‘ona‘auao: Education
Nainoa Thompson: A Challenge to Learn
Ten Themes of Learning
Key Elements of Education
Crew Training
Resources: Classroom Curriculum and Activities
Resources: Online Content
Resources: Online Photos, Graphics, and Maps
Resources: Songs and Chants of the Canoes
Resources: Films and Videos


Films and Videos about PVS Voyages

Available for Purchase

The Navigators: Pathfinders of the Pacific. Sam Low, 1983. 60 minutes.

To explore this ancient navigational heritage, anthropologist and filmmaker Sanford Low visited the tiny coral atoll of Satawal in Micronesia's remote Caroline Islands. There he spoke with Mau Piailug, the last navigator to be ceremonially initiated on Satawal, and one of the few men who still practice the once-essential art of navigation in the Pacific. In a dramatic demonstration, Mau Piailug sails a replica of an original Polynesian canoe from Hawaii to Tahiti: 2500 miles across the ocean without benefit of sextant, compass, or any other Western navigational instrument. Available at Documentary Educational Resources.

Preview on YouTube:

Mau teaching navigation to his nephew on Satawal. From "The Navigators: Pathfinders of the Pacific," posted on YouTube by Documentary Educational Resources.

Wayfinders: a Pacific Odyssey. Public Broadcasting System (Gail Evenari), 1996.

This award-winning PBS documentary sweeps viewers into a seafaring adventure with a community of Polynesians, as they build traditional sailing canoes, learn how to follow the stars across the open ocean, and embark upon a 2,000-mile voyage from the Marquesas Islands to Hawai'i in the wake of their ancestors. Available in DVD at Maiden Voyage Productions. A curriculum guide and a PBS website for the film, including background on Polynesian History and Origin and a Wayfinding Game, is at Wayfinders: a Pacific Odyssey.

Gaia Symphony, No. 3. Jin Tatsumura, Tokyo. 2007. 90 minutes.

Nainoa Thompson is one of three people featured in this film about "wondrous connections and interactions, from ancient times through the present day, between the native peoples of Alaska, Hawai'i and northern Japan all linked by the Pacific Ocean. (Also featured in the film are Photographer Michio Hoshino and Astrophysicist Freeman Dyson.) The film praises the success of Nainoa’s navigation that “led to a renewed sense of courage and cultural pride among native Hawaiians, and greatly contributed to the Hawaiian movement to rediscover the advanced technology and spiritual civilization of their ancestors, who lived in harmony with the magnificent workings of nature.” Avaiable from Jim Tatsumura Office.

Documentaries (starting with the most recent)


Papa Mau: Wayfinder. Palikū Documentary Films. Na‘alehu Anthony. 2010.


Hokule‘a: Passing the Torch. KGMB TV, Honolulu. 45 minutes.

From the Honolulu Advertiser, August 4, 2007: The hour-long special includes footage from the Hokule'a's five-month journey to Micronesia and Japan, which covered 7,000 miles of open sea.

It provides a glimpse into rituals and lifestyles of Micronesian culture as well as candid views of Hokule'a crew members as they followed the tradition of sailing without navigational tools, guided only by the stars and waves.

The recent journey is part of a 30-year odyssey with ties to Satawalese navigator Mau Piailug, who shared his skills with then-young sailors from the Islands. The Micronesian segment includes a trek to the atoll of Satawal, where Piailug presided over a graduation ceremony known as pwo — in essence, a passing-of-the-torch milestone when navigators Nainoa Thompson, Bruce Blankenfeld, Chad Baybayan, Shorty Bertelmann and Chadd Paishon, with 11 Satawalese residents, underwent the same "induction" process that Piailug himself went through 50 years ago.

Narrated by Lopaka Kapanui, the show includes recent video, archival footage and vintage still photographs to track and retell the awesome adventure.

"Voyages have to be about protection of our values," Thompson says along the way.

In the film, Thompson also raises the prospect of a possible future sail westward from Hawai'i, then around the world — a daunting mission with many expected risks, and only a dream for now.

The Satawal sequence is remarkable for its depiction of the islanders' customs: They dance, sing, prepare food and take part in ceremony. With the local paddlers and navigators visiting, you know it's the present; but the flavor and flourish well might have been the same generations ago.

A visit to Uwajima, home base for the Ehime Maru — the fisheries school training vessel that collided with a U.S. submarine off the Islands in 2001 — was emotional, with crew members offering kahili to families of the nine victims of the mishap as a token of remembrance.

The crew weathers a 20-hour rainstorm, prepares such meals as saimin, fried rice and salmon patties, and clearly demonstrates that each one has a role in assuring a safe journey.

And it all comes down to dedication.

"We sailed this canoe with great pride, great affection and great love," Thompson says.


Voyage to Rapanui. KITV (Paula Akana), Honolulu. 40 minutes.

A Half-Hour Special on Rapa Nui (June 1998), lengthened to 40 minutes in 1999 to kick off the voyage to Rapa Nui.

Daring to Dream: Hokule‘a's Quest for Rapanui. KGMB TV (Kim Gennaula), Honolulu. 20 minutes.

This half-hour video interviews with navigator Nainoa Thompson and other crew members, conversations with Rapa Nui locals about what the voyage means to them, reports on Rapa Nui's culture and landmarks, the history of the Moai (stone statues), and exclusive coverage of Nainoa's last visit to the island to prepare. Winner of Society of Professional Journalists' Excellence in Journalism Feature Reporting Award, 2000.

Ke Ala o Hokule‘a (The Way of Hokule‘a). Bishop Museum and ‘Olelo TV (Na‘alehu Anthony and Brad Evans).

Half-hour specials on the voyage to Rapa Nui, featuring conversations of crew members with students in Hawai'i over a satellite phone and video and photos from the voyage.


Bridging Cultures: Hawai'iloa to Alaska. KGMB TV (Kim Gennaula), Honolulu. 40 minutes.

The story of Hawai'iloa's voyage from Seattle to Juneau, Alaska, to thank the Alaskan natives for the logs for building the canoe.

Hawai'iloa's Northwest Voyage. Williams Communications, Seattle. 50 minutes.

This documentary follows the historic journey of the Hawaiiloa sailing canoe from Seattle, Washington to Juneau, Alaska through the northwest Inside Passage uniting thousands of native peoples in a celebration of their heritage and culture.

Reading the Wind Pacific Region Educational Laboratory (PREL), Honolulu. 30 minutes.

Wayfinding in Micronesia and Hawai'i, with Mau Piailug and Nainoa 1995.Thompson. An activity booklet accompanies the video.


'Imi 'Ike (Seeking Knowledge) Bishop Museum and the Native Hawaiian Culture and Arts Program, Honolulu. 30 minutes.

Interviews with PVS members about what voyaging canoes means to their lives and to the Hawaiian culture and community; focuses on key Hawaiian values.


In the Wake of Our Ancestors. Evenari Media Productions, San Francisco. 30 minutes.

The story of the search for logs for building a tradition voyaging canoe; the need to protect the environment.


Wayfinding: The Navigator's Art. Polynesian Voyaging Society, Honolulu. 20 minutes.

Polynesian migrations, History of PVS up to 1985-87 voyage, significance of canoe and wayfinding in Polynesian culture and history. Interviews with Nainoa Thompson, Mau Piailug, Will Kyselka, and others.


Hokule‘a: Proud Voyage Home. KGMB-TV (Elisa Yadao and Cliff Watson), Honolulu and the Curriculum Research & Development Group, University of Hawaii. 46 minutes.

Reviews the 1985-87 16,000 mile journey of the Polynesian
Voyaging Society's double-hulled canoe Hokulea as it
retraced the major migratory routes of the ancient
Polynesians. The canoe and her crew visited Tonga, Samoa,
Tahiti and New Zealand, and navigation was done without
instruments. Elisa Yadao and Cliff Watson of KGMB cover the
story of the nearly month long 2,800 mile sail back to
Hawaii, and a look back at the voyage of rediscovery.

The Voyage of Rediscovery. Hawaii Public Television. 59 minutes.

A videotape of the Voyage of Rediscovery 1985-1987, which took the Hokule‘a to distant shores where many people were able to meet the canoe's crew. This video focuses on the Hokule‘a as a metaphor for the revival of Polynesian cultures throughout the South Pacific.


Hokule‘a: In the Path of the Ancients. KGMB-TV (Elisa Yadao and Cliff Watson), Honolulu, 1985. 22 minutes.

A videotape documenting Hokule‘a's voyage from the Cook Islands to New Zealand in an attempt to gather evidence to support the theory that Polynesians were able to navigate over long distances without Instruments. The video shows scenes of Waitangi on the North Island and the heroes' welcome that greeted the crew's arrival.

Hokule‘a: The Rediscovery Begins. KGMB-TV (Elisa Yadao and Cliff Watson), Honolulu, 1985. 22 minutes.

An Introduction to Hokule‘a's historic Voyage of Rediscovery documenting the canoe's travels from Hawai'i to Tahiti in 1985.


Hokule‘a: Ka Wa‘a Kaulua (Hokule‘a the Double-hulled Canoe) Polynesian Voyaging Society, Honolulu, 26 minutes.

A documentary depicting the 1980 Hawai'i-to-Tahiti voyage of the Hokule‘a. It features narration by Palani Vaughan and songs from the album The Musical Saga of the Hokule‘a by Roland Cazimero and Keli‘i Tau‘a.


Hokule‘a and Its Crew. Hawaii Public Television. 60 minutes.

A documentary featuring members of the crew of Hokule‘a and members of the Polynesian Voyaging Society discussing the National Geographic Special "Voyage of the Hokule‘a."


Return of the Hokule‘a. Hawaii Public Television. 90 minutes.

A videotape documenting the arrival and greeting festivities that took place when Hokule‘a returned to Hawai'l from Tahiti in 1976.

Voyage of the Hokule‘a. National Geographic Society, Washington, D.C. 90 minutes.

A documentary of the beginnings of the Polynesian Voyaging Society an its endeavor to build and sail a modern replica of an ancient voyaging vessel from Hawal'i to Tahiti without navigational Instruments. The film covers interpersonal conflicts between crew members.