Master Navigator Kālepa Baybayan gives lecture at University of Auckland

Baybayan, on the Worldwide Voyage of two sailing canoes, recently visited the University of Auckland to discuss the art of traditional navigation to university students.

Kalepa Baybayan on board a sailing canoe with Waikiki in the background.
Kālepa Baybayan

Chad Kālepa Baybayan, navigator-in-residence at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center (an educational outreach center of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo), who holds the prestigious title of Pwo Master Navigator, is currently serving as crew aboard the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage. For the Worldwide Voyage, two Polynesian voyaging canoes, Hōkūle‘a and Hikianalia, are sailing around the world to grow a global movement toward peace and a more sustainable world.

The Worldwide Voyage, which launched in 2013 and will cover 47,000 nautical miles, 85 ports, and 26 countries over a period of four years, recently visited New Zealand, where Baybayan was invited to the University of Auckland to present the Hawaiian Star Compass and discuss the art of traditional navigation to university students.

Baybayan, one of a handful of experts on celestial navigation who have reached the level of Pwo, has been sailing on the Hōkūle‘a since 1975 when he was 19. He has served as captain and navigator for several voyages on Hōkūle‘a and two other sailing canoes, Hawai‘iloa and Hokualaka‘i.

The title of Baybayan’s lecture was, “He Lani Ko Luna, He Honua Ko Lalo,” translated as “The Heavens Above, The Earth Below.”

Crew member Linda Furuto, who wrote a blog post about the lecture (with photos), quotes Baybayan as saying, “The star compass is about the symbiotic relationship between all living things. The sky bears witness to actions on the land.”

Explains Furuto:

This Aotearoa Education Outreach leg is all about engaging with learners of all ages on what we are doing to mālama honua – care for our Earth, and how we are navigating our way – both metaphorically and physically on the voyage through our traditional celestial navigation. For myself, I’ve been able to share and demonstrate the star compass with students around the ages of 6-11. On this leg, Kālepa has been my alaka‘i, or leader, in conducting these demonstrations. The process is very simple and perfectly geared for learners of those ages. But in this college setting, it was interesting for me to see Kālepa transition his star compass teaching from 6-11 year olds to university students.

During the long stay in Auckland Harbor, the Worldwide Voyage crew also hosted educational outreach opportunities with the support of the Maritime Museum (see video below — Furuto interview starts at :40 and Baybayan at 1:29 — transcript).