The Hōkūle‘a, a traditional Hawaiian voyaging canoe that navigates primarily by using the stars, tides, birds, and no modern navigation departed on Hawaii in 2014 to go on a seafaring trip across the globe to honor the traditions of the original voyaging Polynesians who traveled across the Pacific and settled in Hawaii, and to also promote a message for peace and to protect the Earth’s oceans, lands and peoples, a practice called Mālama Honua.

The double-hulled voyaging canoe Hōkūle‘a returned to Hawaii Saturday after completing a three-year sailing journey across the world.

Guided by the elements, Hōkūle‘a crew members utilized traditional Polynesian navigation methods to traverse about 40,300 nautical miles across 23 countries and territories and more than 150 ports.

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“It’s the largest cultural event of our lifetime,” Miki Tomita, director of the Learning Center at the Polynesian Voyaging Society, told the NewsHour Weekend.

Several voyaging canoes from the Hawaiian islands and the Pacific docked at the Magic Island Marina before the arrival of Hōkūle‘a and an official homecoming ceremony.

Crew members descending from Hōkūle‘a received hugs and some were adorned with lei as they walked onto the Hawaiian shore. They formed a circle together with others gathered on the shore for Hawaiian prayers and chants. The subsequent ceremony included a procession and Kāli’i Rite, an indigenous spear-throwing ceremony.

Thousands of people converged at Magic Island, a peninsula in Honolulu, for a day-long celebration of the canoe’s homecoming. Hawaiians have closely followed the voyage of Hōkūle‘a, Hawaii’s first state treasure and a symbol of Hawaiian culture and peace.

Built in honor of canoes that Polynesians first sailed to Hawaii, Hōkūle‘a launched in 1975 (during the rise of the Hawaiian Renaissance) as the first voyaging canoe in over 600 years.

In 2008, a plan was hatched to have the canoe travel across the globe, implementing rigorous planning and training that took nearly 10 years. Today, the canoe finally arrives home after stops in Australia, South Africa, Brazil and countless other ports.

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