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  • Reawakened: Traditional Navigators of Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa by Jeff Evans
  • Meagan Harden
Reawakened: Traditional Navigators of Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa, by Jeff Evans. Auckland: Massey University Press, 2021. isbn softcover, 9780995131804; e-book, 9780995131811, 256 pages. Softcover, us 39.99; e-book, us $10.99.

As its title suggests, Reawakened: Traditional Navigators of Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa tracks the revitalization of wayfinding across Polynesia through the eyes of ten navigators from Hawai'i, Aotearoa/New Zealand, and the Cook Islands. Taking a journalistic approach, Auckland-based author Jeff Evans guides readers through interviews with the navigators, each of whom received the title of Pwo (master navigators "who have undergone a ceremony in which they learn restricted navigational knowledge and chants" from the late Satawalese navigator Mau Piailug [190]). Taken together, these biographies and Evans's narration produce an imagined geography of wayfinding's resurgence as connecting Hawai'i, Rapa Nui, and Aotearoa, with the occasional venture into Piailug's Satawalese waters. This geographic focus is deliberate, as evidenced by the title's inclusion of "Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa," a phrase widely understood by speakers of Polynesian languages; however, the book's geographic constraint risks reproducing a Polynesia-centric account of wayfinding that detracts from Evans's stated interest in honoring Piailug's legacy. Even still, the text provides important insight into the celestial, terrestrial, and aquatic orientations of contemporary wayfinding.

Reawakened begins with a foreword by the late Chad Kālepa Baybayan, a Hawaiian navigator trained, in part, by Piailug. Here, Baybayan reflects on Piailug's contribution to Polynesian cultural revitalization, stating that "[Piailug] provided us with a way back to our culture through the canoe" (14). Following this moving testament to Piailug's influence on the resurgence of Polynesian wayfinding, Evans introduces the ten navigators whose perspectives guide the book. These include Nainoa Thompson, Shorty Bertelmann, Bruce Mealoha Blankenfeld, Chad Kālepa Baybayan, and 'Onohi Paishon of Hawai'i; Sir Hec Busby, Jacko Webster Te Kapene Thatcher, and Piripi Leslie Evans of Aotearoa; and Tua Pittman and Peia Patai of the Cook Islands. Before moving into the body of the text, which is arranged into three groups according to the navigators' islands of origin and further divided into the author's interviews with each navigator, Evans offers a [End Page 514] brief explanation of Piailug's role in wayfinding's resurgence. In contextualizing Piailug's willingness to train cultural outsiders in the Satawalese navigational system, Evans describes how "sacred knowledge, thousands of years in the making, was in very real danger of dying out under his stewardship. Instead of giving up, he decided to break with protocol and plant the seed in another land, with another culture, so that when his people finally wanted to reclaim their birth right, it would still be there thriving in Polynesia" (17). From its outset, then, Reawakened presents the transmission of wayfinding knowledge as imperative, urgent, and necessitating the relaxation of cultural protocols that otherwise would have prohibited Piailug from sharing his knowledge with cultural outsiders.

Throughout the book, Evans and his interlocutors emphasize the urgency of sharing navigational knowledge, linking wayfinding practices with cultural resurgence more broadly. For example, Thompson describes his purpose as a wayfinder as "mak[ing] sure that today's generation doesn't forget the importance and greatness of their ancestors," which he accomplishes by teaching voyaging skills to youth (57). This emphasis on intergenerational knowledge exchange is borrowed directly from the Pwo philosophy as taught by Piailug and remains a core tenet of each navigator's wayfinding practice. By facilitating the training of future navigators and sharing their own expertise, the navigators work to nurture a regional identity rooted in shared oceanic histories. It is through this process of sharing knowledge that the navigators—and Evans himself—aim to sustain the regional resurgence of wayfinding.

Importantly, however, Evans's presentation of this regional resurgence is limited to the three island chains of Hawai'i, Aotearoa, and the Cook Islands. While this focus, reflected in the text's organization into island groupings, provides context for each navigator's personal background, it simultaneously overlooks the Satawalese roots that enabled this regional wayfinding revitalization...

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