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Master navigator to deliver ASTC 2010 keynote

Charles Nainoa Thompson, a master of noninstrument navigation (wayfinding) and chair of the Board of the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS), will deliver the keynote address at the 2010 ASTC Annual Conference. Thompson will talk about lessons learned in the revival of Polynesian navigation and how those lessons apply to life’s other endeavors. Hosted by the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, October 2–5, ASTC 2010 will address the theme “Ho‘okele—To Navigate: Science Centers as Wayfinders to New Horizons.” (Registration is now open; early registration deadline has been extended through July 23.)

Thompson began his study under master navigator Mau Piailug of Satawal, Micronesia, in 1978. In 1980, Thompson made history as the first Hawaiian in hundreds of years to navigate a voyaging canoe from Hawaii to Tahiti using only the stars and other traditional wayfinding techniques. The canoe, Hokule‘a, has since sailed to every major island group in Polynesia, as well as to Micronesia and Japan. Plans are being made now for a worldwide sail. In 1994, under Thompson’s supervision, PVS completed the construction of a new Hawaiian voyaging canoe, Hawa‘iloa, made from authentic materials.

In Hawaii and throughout Polynesia, Thompson has led a revival of traditional arts associated with voyaging. He is currently developing an educational program designed to teach Hawaiian children about Polynesian voyaging traditions and conservation principles, along with modern scientific knowledge about the ocean, sky, and land environments.