Lehua Kamalu

Polynesian Voyager

Lehua Kamalu uses the practice of Polynesian voyaging
to inspire communities to care for their natural and cultural environments.

Hawaii is known as the “extinction capital of the world.” While it is recognized for its beauty, diversity and splendid ecology, it has also been a victim of historic decimation of countless native species. By the mid-20th century, traditional Polynesian voyaging, a symbol of great pride to Hawaiians, was nearly extinct, too.

Today, navigator Lehua Kamalu is part of a movement to revive the voyaging tradition. As the Voyaging Director for the Polynesian Voyaging Society, a nonprofit and educational organization that perpetuates the art and science of traditional voyaging, Lehua is showing individuals and communities a better way to interact with one another and with their natural environment. She believes there is much that voyaging can teach the world about Hawaiian identity and history and also, about humanity’s fragile relationship to nature. Because the success of every journey depends on human and natural resources working together towards collective achievement, voyaging offers a means to experience social and environmental justice in action.

Ultimately, Lehua says, “modern Hawaiian voyaging promotes a shared vision for how people and places can stay healthy and thrive.”