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Fleet spreading word of ocean protection

HONOLULU, Hawaii (Pacific Islands Report, Aug. 8, 2011) – The historic flotilla of six Pacific Voyaging Canoes has arrived in San Francisco.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the canoes recreated their entry under the Golden Gate Bridge on Sunday after completing the Hawaii-to-California leg of their journey.

The voyage, Te Mana O Te Moana, or "The Spirit of the Sea," comprises canoes "Faafaite" from Tahiti, "Uto Ni Yalo" from Fiji, "Marumaru Atua" from the Cook Islands, "Gaualofa" from Samoa, "Te Matau a Maui" from Atearoa, and two Pan Pacific canoes: "Hine Moana" and "Haunui" with Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu crew members.

The canoes arrived at Hilo on the "Big Island" of Hawaii before continuing to the island of Oahu, where they landed on June 24 to a welcoming crowd at Kualoa. In ancient times, Kualoa was a sacred place – the residence of kings and a sanctuary where commoners could find safety and from pursuers for wrongdoings.

In ancient times, Hawaiians lived under strict laws. Commoners could not get too close to the chief, nor were they allowed to touch any of his possessions, walk in his footsteps or even let their shadows touch the royal grounds. The penalty for violating a sacred kapu (taboo) was death. However, if one could reach a pu’uhonua - he could find protection there and maybe forgiveness.

During their stay in Hawaii, President of the Fiji Voyaging Society, Colin Philp spoke to Pacific Islands Report about his personal views regarding their mission. He said "there is a need for a unified Pacific to move the message across the world". The mission, he say, has revived the art of traditional navigation and has re-connected lost ties; and he is thankful to Hawaii for taking the lead.

The New Zealand Herald reports "the voyage was organized by a wealthy German philanthropist Dieter Paulmann, who wanted to highlight the role traditional knowledge could play in saving the ocean from environmental threats."

The knowledge in the art of traditional navigation in the Pacific is perpetuated in each destination the canoe journeys.

Beginning April 19, 2011, the Pacific voyagers sailed from Auckland to Tahiti and from Tahiti they sailed to Hawaii. The canoes took off from Kauai on July 12 for San Francisco. They plan to dock in San Diego in September for the Winter break.

According to New Zealand Herald, the canoes are expected to rendezvous again in the Solomon Islands for the 2012 Pacific Arts Festival.

Mr. Paulmann says he hopes the voyage would help people realize that everyone in the world was effectively in the same boat, when it comes to saving the ocean and the environment.

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