The Tahiti Nui Explorers Society unites those who aim to perpetuate the spirit of adventure in the South Seas. Its goal is to promote Polynesia through explorations and great exploits that have marked its history and to support its key players.
The first Polynesians who settled our islands arrived from Southeast Asia and most probably did not see themselves as explorers. Whatever the reasons that pushed them to take to the sea and brave the power of nature, they opened the first pathway on board their sailing pirogues and settled all the Polynesian islands in an unparalleled maritime adventure. Centuries later, the first European sailors and explorers arrived, fueled by other desires and preoccupations. They also shaped French Polynesia’s image. Their journals contributed to the emergence of the myth of New Cythera and enticed other men to come explore these unique lands, always by sea.
This ocean still fascinates adventurers today. It attracts and pushes them to exceed their limits, all the while reinforcing this image of Polynesia as lands of escape and exploration. These men and women contribute to the immense history of our islands through their research, publications, photography and films. They are creators—explorers who highlight ancient knowledge while perpetuating the spirit of adventure of the South Seas. They can no longer remain in the shadows.
On a Quest for the Polynesian Triangle and Beyond
In July 2015, Air Tahiti Nui teamed up with photographer Danee Hazama and Tahiti Tourisme to produce an exhibition at the Musée de Tahiti et des îles called, Tahiti Nui Explorers : A la découverte du triangle polynésien et au-delà (On a Quest for the Polynesian Triangle and Beyond). This exhibition, which encountered immediate success, was dedicated to ancestral navigation through the lens of reporters privy to the Polynesian cultural legacy. An exhibition was not enough for this adventure. Le Musée de Tahiti et Ses Iles, Air Tahiti Nui and Tahiti Tourisme chose to highlight ancient explorers while supporting today’s adventurers with the introduction of the Tahiti Nui Explorer Society. This organization unites explorers who have contributed to the history of the South Pacific with those who continue to do so: Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, Tupaia, Samuel Wallis, Thor Heyerdhal and the Kon Tiki, Paul Gauguin, Jacques Brel and Bobby Holcomb, Henri Hiro for the artists, Paul-Emile Victor, Alain Colas and Francis Cowan. The list is even more extensive. The intended goal is to encourage encounters between these adventurers who promote French Polynesia via exploration and the general public. To tell a powerful, rich story far-removed from the simple images of the coconut trees and white sand entices you to want to follow in their steps. Your inflight magazine, RevaTahiti, will be the privileged source to learn about these extraordinary human adventures. Conferences, new exhibitions and festivals will be on the agenda to allow Tahiti Nui Explorers to share their work. The second goal of the Tahiti Nui Explorer Society is to highlight the projects of its members; projects that appear at once crazy and ambitious, such as the incredible O Tahiti Nui Freedom expedition. Hopefully, this will lead to new sponsorships and partnerships to follow along on the adventure. Here, discover the face of these new explorers, members of the Tahiti Nui Explorers Society.
His Language: Photography
A resident of Tahiti for many years, Hazama is an internationally renowned photographer who is passionate about French Polynesia, Austronesian cultures and ethnology. His exceptional work exposing the connections between indigenous peoples in Taiwan and Polynesians was featured in a stunning exhibition called Nos ancȇtres de…Tawian? (Our ancestors from…Taiwan?). Vested in saving the oceans and indigenous cultures, Hazama has participated in several expeditions on the double-hulled sailing pirogue, Faafaite.
His Language: The Ocean as Way of Life
An accomplished athlete, Stéphan Lambert set anchor in French Polynesia where he has since organized several major athletic events focused around the theme of the sea, such as the Bora Bora Ironmana. He was also instrumental in reintroducing high sea sailing pirogues to Bora Bora and has since shared the pleasure of being lulled to the rhythm of the wind with over 40,000 visitors.
Lambert is very involved in the promotion of Holopuni sailing pirogues (modern double-hulled sailing pirogues now made under license in Tahiti). In 2012, he created the “Tahiti Nui Holopuni Channel Crossing,” which entails a 400K (248.5 mi) odyssey that departs from Pointe Venus in Tahiti to Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea and Taha’a before finishing in Bora Bora. For the first time in Heiva history, Holopuni pirogues raced against traditional sailing pirogues during the Tiurai festivities.
His Language: A Quest for Rocks
Michel Charleux, an avid archeologist, has spent almost 20 years in French Polynesia since his first visit in 1977. Loyal to his idea about creating cultural awareness among young Polynesians, he has conducted archeology initiation workshops that have taken place in the teaching studios at the Musée de Tahiti et des Îles. Director of the underwater dig at the Vai’hi site on Raiatea, he is dedicated to restoring the Ta’ata marae. Between 1987 and 2013, he has been involved in digs on the deserted island of Eiao.
Today, Michel Charleux dedicates most of his time to classifying the extensive collections he brought back from this Marquesan island for his doctoral dissertation.
His Language: Words and Elements of the Spirit.
Son of French anthropologist Paul Ottino and Polynesian anthropologist Marimari Kellum, Ottino was born into a world filled with reflection. He moved to China for several years and his experiences and passions for China allowed him important positions within the French Polynesian government. In 2010, he organized the construction of a 15.25m (50ft) traditional Polynesian outrigger sailing canoe, O Tahiti Nui Freedom. Ottino and 5 other Polynesians then left on a 123-day experimental archeological expedition to retrace, in reverse, the settlement route of the first Polynesians. Today, this pirogue has been offered to China to be on exhibit in a specially designated space in the National Maritime Museum of Tianjin.
His Language: Sailing for Artistic Reasons
Singer-songwriter-performer and French navigator Antoine left in 1974 he left on his own to tour the world on a sailing boat. Since 1989, he has been sailing on Banana Split, a 12.5m catamaran (41ft). Antoine’s career as a photographer and filmmaker began in 1989 with the publication of his first book of photographs and production of a series of 12 films, Îles … était une fois (Islands…Once Upon a Time). These films were broadcast throughout numerous countries and translated into several languages. This passionate sailor published two articles in issues 47 and 48 of Air Tahiti Nui’s flight magazine, RevaTahiti: “A Fleur de Corail” (Blooming Coral) and “L’or de Raivavae” (Raivavae’s Gold).
His Language: History in the Quest for Knowledge
Journalist and author Patrick Seurot is passionate about history. In 2009, he started his dissertation in Economic History over 19th century pearl farming in the Tuamotu Islands. His research led to the creation of a traveling exhibition (Musée National de la Nacre in France and Musée de Tahiti et des îles) as well as other projects that highlight the pearl. His latest endeavor entails creating a Chablis wine label in homage to the Tahitian pearl with a production of 400,000 copies based on a design by Hiro Ou Wen. Since 2010, Air Tahiti Nui accompanies Seurot on his journeys to promote the pearl abroad.
His Language: Using technology to Create Images
Olivier Chiabodo is a man of communications, images and television. His latest creation, The Explorers Network, entails establishing ultra-high definition images of the world in order to highlight all the diversity and richness of humanity’s tangible and intangible legacies. This project, which expects to take place over five continents within a minimum time frame of five years, is immense in scope—most notably with its use of ultra-high definition 4K resolution cameras. The first documentary, which was dedicated to French Polynesia’s marine sanctuary and unique conservancy space, was broadcast in April 2015 on channel TNTV (French Polynesia) and on TF1’s Zoom (France).
Laurance Alexander Rudzinoff
His Language: Master Art Dealer of the 20th Century
Laurance Alexander Rudzinoff has been an expert in modern art for thirty years. He moved to the island of Moorea in French Polynesia in 1992. His primary goal is to share his knowledge of art and Polynesian culture locally, then onto the world through publishing articles in RevaTahiti, Air Tahiti Nui’s onboard flight magazine. Rudzinoff considers ancient Polynesian artifacts as true ambassadors of our islands due to the notoriety and curiosity they elicit all over the world.
His Language: Images to Help the Sea
At 22 years old, Benjamin Thouard, passionate about the sea and photography, decided to set down his cameras in Tahiti. The famous Teahupo’o wave quickly became his favorite spot and water shots became his specialty as far as all water gliding sports. For more than 7 years, Thuard has explored and shot the waves of Tahiti and her islands. He has turned a project into an endless quest. He patiently waits for ideal wave conditions and good light while waiting for perfect moments. This allows him to immortalize the shapes that the ocean creates for mere seconds.
Her Language: the Rhythm of Words
Born in Tahiti, Rai is Polynesian through her roots as much as through her words. As co-founder of the first ma’ohi literature journal, Littérama’ohi, journalist and author Rai Chaze is one of the big names in Tahitian literature. In 2014, she embarked on the traditional double-hulled sailing canoe Faafaite and wrote an article over this voyage that appeared in issue 63 of RevaTahiti, Air Tahiti Nui’s inflight magazine.
La Tetiaroa Society
Its Language: Science working towards the Preservation of the Environment
Founded in 2010 by Marlon Brandon’s heirs, the Tetiaroa Society is an NGO whose goal is to preserve the island of Tetiaroa while developing fundamental and applied research. The Tetiaroa Society also welcomes scientists to develop collaborations and exchanges of information between research institutes and universities from all over the world.