Our Islands, Our Future

A distinguished line-up of speakers and mentors joined the 5th annual EMER-GEN Program presented by Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) at the 2022 Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies (AMOS) Conference. A joint initiative of AMOS and the Space Generation Advisory Council, over twenty leaders in the space industry supported the emerging generation of young professionals enthusiastic about careers in space. Forty-eight delegates met for EMER-GEN, with nearly half of these based in Hawaii, to help develop aerospace careers locally.

Maui resident Kalā Baybayan Tanaka offered the Celestial Navigation presentation. She is responsible for Education Direction and Program Implementation at Hui O Wa`a Kaulua, a sea-voyaging non-profit organization on Maui dedicated to the practice and perpetuation of Hawaiian canoe building, wayfinding and voyaging arts. She is also a UH Manoa STEMS^2 Masters student in Curriculum Studies. Tanaka introduced the EMER-GEN cohort to the Hawaiian Star Compass and other aspects of Hawaiian culture which pertain to leadership and communication. She inherited her love for the ocean and passion for sailing from her father, Pwo (master) Chad Kalepa Baybayan, who served  as one of the lead captains and navigators of the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage—Hōkūle`a.

“I shared Hawaiian lore, explored traditional navigational techniques and provided an intimate look at the relationship between the celestial bodies and history,” Tanaka explained. “Each of my own voyages taught me to be more in sync with my environment. I shared my passion for wayfinding and told the cohort stories of the stars that have led my way forward, and always guided my way home.”

Cohort member Rishin Aggarwal, Indian Space Research Organization, said, “Tanaka has a way of breaking down navigation so we could all understand it and also feel empowered by it. She said you do not have to be Hawaiian to be wayfinders and learn voyaging. You simply need a deep desire to learn. She also stressed the importance of teamwork, skills much needed by our EMER-GEN cohort, in our space industry careers, and daily life.”

Frances Zhu, UH Assistant Professor, Hawaii Space Flight Laboratory, added, “Tanaka shows the spiritual side of astronomy, wayfaring and voyaging. I am so inspired by her.”

In 2016, as captain and co-navigator alongside my father on the Hikianalia, I learned so much while sailing from Hawaii to Tahiti, thousands of miles, without modern instruments. Kalā Baybayan Tanaka, Hui O Wa`a Kaulua