On a day of ceremony and celebration, the traditional Polynesian voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa arrived August 30 in Tacoma.  

Hōkūleʻa is one of two canoes on a 43,000-nautical mile circumnavigation of the Pacific Ocean called the Moananuiākea Voyage to raise awareness about the importance of oceans, nature, and indigenous knowledge.  

When the Polynesian Voyaging Society canoe passed Browns Point, crew members requested permission of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians to visit. 

“Our songs are still on these waters, our ancestors are still on these waters, probably with us today,” said Puyallup Tribal Elder Connie McCloud. 

As the flotilla headed toward Tacoma, visitors and hosts held deep conversations. “We shared our stories, we shared our pain, we shared our love,” said Sui-Lan Ho’okano, a key member of the committee planning visits in Tacoma and Seattle.   

After traditional protocols, tribal members escorted Hōkūleʻa to the waters off Thea’s Park, where the outrigger canoe community offered a water welcome. The flotilla then docked at Foss Waterway Seaport and followed landfall protocols before crew members joined the crowd gathered ashore. 

Port of Tacoma Commissioners John McCarthy and Kristin Ang welcomed the voyagers and were offered blankets from the Puyallup Tribe. 

“This epic trans-Pacific voyage reminds us of our connections across geography and cultures and our need to care for lands and waters,” McCarthy said. “The Port of Tacoma is grateful to these travelers and the important message they bring.” 

Hōkūleʻa arrived at the Port of Tacoma in April aboard a Matson ship from its home in Hawai’i.  The canoe was then towed to Seattle for a barge trip to Juneau, Alaska, where the Moananuiākea Voyage officially began in June. The canoe has so far traveled through Southeast Alaska, down the British Columbia coast and into Washington, where it stopped in Suquamish and Seattle.  

Hōkūleʻa will spend a few days in Tacoma before moving on to its next stop in Port Townsend. The crew plans to conduct public tours at the Foss Waterway Seaport on Friday, September 1 from 1-4pm, and Saturday, September 2 from 9-11am and 1-4pm.  

The entire voyage will span about four years and will involve two canoes, 400 crew members, 36 countries and archipelagoes, nearly a hundred indigenous territories, and 345 ports.