Pacific Islander Biography

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Thompson, Nainoa (1953–?)

by Ben Finney

In 1980 Nainoa Thompson (1953–) became the first Hawaiian in centuries to navigate a canoe to another archipelago when he guided the reconstructed voyaging canoe Höküleÿa from Hawai'i to Tahiti and back by non-instrument, quasi-traditional methods. Mau Piailug, the master navigator from Micronesia, trained him for that voyage, and Nainoa in turn has become the master navigator and acknowledged leader of the renaissance in Polynesian voyaging. In addition to guiding Höküleÿa on subsequent voyages through Polynesia in 1985–87, 1992 and 1995, Nainoa has counselled groups from throughout the region in their own projects to reconstruct and sail voyaging canoes, and has trained a new generation of Polynesian navigators.

Original Publication

  • The Pacific Islands: An Encyclopedia, edited by Brij V. Lal and Kate Fortune, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 2000, p 81

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Ben Finney, 'Thompson, Nainoa (1953–?)', Pacific Islander Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 10 July 2020.

© Copyright Pacific Islander Biography, 2012