Herb Kawainui Kāne, a founder of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and designer of Hōkūle‘a (1928-2011)

Herb Kawainui Kāne (pronounced KAH-ney) is an artist-historian and author with special interest in Hawai'i and the South Pacific. Born in 1928, he was raised in Waipi'o Valley and Hilo, Hawai'i, and Wisconsin. After Navy service, he studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (master's degree 1953) and at the University of Chicago. He resides in rural South Kona on the island of Hawaii.

He passed away on March 8, 2011.

Career experience has included advertising art, publishing art, architectural design, painting, writing, and sculpture.

Research on Polynesian canoes and voyaging led to his participation as general designer and builder of the sailing canoe Hōkūle‘a, which he served as its first captain in 1975.

In 1984 he was elected a Living Treasure of Hawaii. In the 1987 Year of the Hawaiian Celebration, he was one of sixteen persons chosen as Po'okela(Champion). From 1988 to 1992 he served as a founding trustee of the Native Hawaiian Culture & Arts Program, a Federal program at Bishop Museum. In 1998, he was awarded Bishop Museum's Charles Reed Bishop Medal. In 2002, he received an award for excellence from The Hawaii Book Publishers Association. He is a 2008 recipient of an honorary doctorate awarded by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Herb's new Hawaii commemorative stamp for the U.S. Postal Service, celebrating 50 years of statehood, was released in August 2009.

Offical Web Site


Articles Online at PVS Website

From Voyagers

Some images by Herb on the PVS website:

Kaha‘i entering Kāne‘ohe Bay

A Wa'a Kaulua (double canoe) of Hawaiian Nobility of the 18th Century

Eia Hawai‘i! (Behold Hawai‘i!) Sighting Mauna Kea. Painting by Herb Kawainui Kane

Hokule‘a 2006. Painting by Herb Kawainui Kane

Hokule‘a. Painting by Herb Kawainui Kane

Kalai Wa‘a, the Canoe Builder

Ho‘okele, the Navigator