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Hawaii’s Legendary Voyaging Canoe Makes History at the UN

Hawaii’s legendary traditional voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa achieved the pinnacle of her historic four-year sail around the world at today’s United Nations (UN) celebration of World Oceans Day: a global event focused on ocean celebration and collaboration for a better future. This year’s theme of “Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet” encouraged individuals and organizations across the globe to take action in preventing plastic pollution in our ocean, with programming that featured the powerful and lasting presence of the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

“We bear the weight of tremendous privilege and responsibility,” said master navigator Nainoa Thompson, “having this opportunity to speak on behalf of the incredible people we have met and inspiration we have felt as we have sailed, visiting communities throughout the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans.”

“We are sailing to New York not just to share Hōkūleʻa and her inspiring legacy, not just to share these stories of great navigators and bring to light the issues facing our oceans and people. We are sailing to deliver declarations from people and places that are dedicating themselves towards action and commitment.”

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“Captain Nainoa, I wish you and your entire crew a wonderful return journey,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who sailed on Hōkūleʻa in Apia, Samoa in 2014. “I count on your leadership and commitment as we carry out our plans to make this world safer and more sustainable for all. On World Oceans Day, let us renew our resolve to protect these marine treasures for generations to come.”

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In today’s morning ceremony at Gantry Plaza State Park, Thompson presented UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Gyan Chandra Acharya, UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, and Palau President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. with the ocean protection declarations and messages of hope that the Hōkūleʻa crew members collected from their worldwide journey promoting sustainable oceans.

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Later in the afternoon, Thompson joined Palau President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. and representatives of the Federated States of Micronesia, for a talk-story session on the UN’s Ocean Agenda and goals. The leaders also discussed development regarding the negotiation of a new legally binding instrument to protect biodiversity in marine areas in the high seas.