Mar 22, 2017

Hopes research into Marshallese navigation will boost culture

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A Harvard science professor wants to further document traditional Marshallese navigation methods to help boost the islands’ indigenous culture.

Marshall Islands wave piloting is one of the navigation techniques featured in Professor John Huth’s book ‘The Lost Art of Finding Our Way’.

Pacific Ocean Sunset Photo: Tony Webster, CC by 2.0

Professor Huth said his research found its use of ocean swells to navigate was extremely accurate.

He says he hopes further research will help revive Marshallese culture

“I almost have in my mind that we want to publish a wave piloting manual or something like that, that we could give back to the Marshallese to allow them to reclaim their heritage. Because I think it’s a very rich heritage,” Professor Huth said.

The late Korent Joel pictured on a navigation teaching trip in the mid-2000s in the Marshall Islands. Mr Joel was one of only a handful of Marshall Islanders who still knew traditional wave and star navigation. Photo: Supplied / Alson Kelen

Mr Huth said modern GPS systems could sometimes fail, and wave piloting could still be useful to help keep oriented at sea.

Published on Radio New Zealand website, 22 March 2017