Closing the Triangle


The Challenge


Rapa Nui Settlement

Rapa Nui Prehistory

Wind, Weather, Ocean Currents of the Pacific

Sailing Strategies

Geography, History, & Culture in the Eastern Pacific

Educational Curriculum for
Rapa Nui

Letter to Educators

History & Heritage

Virtual Voyage

I - Getting to know your Vessel
II - Sail Planning
III - Becoming a crewmember
IV - Provisioning the Vessel
V - Preparing for the Voyage

Research & Action Projects

I - Why We Explore
II - Meterology of the Pacific
III - Naked-eye Astronomy
IV - Sealife
V - Geography, History, Culture

How to Track Hokulea

Vision & Exploration

Exploring the Night Sky

Star Charts for Hawaii

Our Sacred Earth

Malama Hawaii Projects

Northwestern Islands






















V. Geography, History, Culture, and Ecology of Islands in the Eastern Pacific

Students research the geography, history, and culture of any of the remote islands that will visited by Hokule'a--the Marquesas, Mangareva (Gambier Islands), Pitcairn, Rapa Nui, Rangiroa (Tuamotu Archipelago), and Tahiti. Research will be a challenge, as reports on these islands are neither numerous nor widely disseminated.

One of the themes of the voyage is sustainable living--on a canoe, on small islands in an ocean, on the planet earth, a small island in space: thus, a focus of research could be ecology and subsistence on small islands.

A. How have communities lived on these islands in the past? How did the Polynesians manage their resources to survive and flourish for ten or twenty or thirty centuries on their small islands? What cultural values and resouce management strategies did they use? What was the state of the different islands groups visited by European explorers, beginning in the sixteenth century? Were all the islands equally successful in protecting and conserving resources? What was the minimum land-base area needed to sustain a Polynesian settlement? What were the factors that brought about Rapa Nui's "tree-less" landscape? What kinds of lessons can we learn from the histories of these islands? What has happened to Hawai'i's forests since the coming of the Western economic systems. What is being done to restore and manage Hawai'i's forests. Are these steps sufficient?

B. How do communities live on small islands today? The small islands of the world have come under extreme pressures of modern Capitalism's expansion of population, consumption, and waste production and pollution. Many are suffering from environmental degradation and overcrowding. They are also in danger of losing land mass to rising seas that may be caused by the melting of the polar icecaps under global warming. Could these islands, like the canoe itself, be microcosms of the planet? Have they begun to manage the problems of limited resources and limited space and overconsumption and waste? If so, how? Are the industrial nations of the world doing anything about their wasteful consumption habits or the pollution that may be causing global warming? If so, what?

C. Taking Care of the World's Oceans: Students research ocean environmental issues such as pollution in the world's ocean, or why the stocks of ocean fisheries are declining today, and what steps are being taken to maintain a sustainable yield (One place to start the research of fishing is with Michael Parfit's article "Exploiting the Ocean's Bounty: Diminishing Returns" (National Geographic November 1995: 2-37.) Other Topics: Damage to/Loss of Coral Reef Habitats due to Global Warming, Pollution, and Human Use; Pollution of the World's Oceans from Shipping: Garbage and Oil Slicks Accumulating in Areas such as the Equatorial Doldrums. (See the Website for the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme [SPREP].)

D. Cultural Revival: Students research and write about the devastation of Polynesian population, cultures, and landscapes after the arrival of European and American explorers, imperialists, and colonialists; they could research the modern political and cultural movements to restore native culture and sovereignty in islands that have become colonies of Europe and America. For information and links about Hawaiian sovereignty, see the Nation of Hawai'i Website.

E. Malama Hawai'i? Students apply their ideas about living on islands to our island home: What is unique and special about our island home? What steps do we need to take today to protect what is unique and special? What could students do, or what have they done, to insure that their children and grandchildren and future generations will enjoy those things we love about Hawai'i today? What resources are being consumed daily in the communities where they live? What resources are renewable? unrenewable? What steps would they take to insure that the resources they have would be available to their children, grandchildren, and future generations in perpetuity? What groups in their communities have been active in working for a sustainable future? What kinds of potential conflicts are there in the community? How can these conflicts be resolved?

Possible Activities: Students do a project to restore, care for, enhance, or protect some part of Hawai'i's unique and precious heritage, environment, or community. See "Our Sacred Earth" and "Malama Hawai'i Projects" in this education packet.

On-line Resources: