Robert Bonville -- ""Voyages of Malo: Secret of the Rongo"

Robert Bonville – Author and one-time Hawaiian resident takes you along with ancient Polynesian navigators aboard the great seagoing canoe “Malolo” as they circumnavigate the Pacific 500 years before Columbus in this new historical novel.

  Based on archeological and anthropological studies, “Voyages of Malolo: Secret of the Rongo” depicts the early exploration and dangers of the Pacific and the wild west coast of the America’s and Hawaii in 1000 AD.

   When young Auka’i discovers a piece of driftwood from the east containing mysterious hieroglyphics, the “Rongo”, he and his people believe it is a message from the gods directing them to discover its meaning and the secret it contains. The young adventurer and his crew of uniquely skilled men  build a large, double-hulled deep sea sailing canoe and sail east across the Pacific to the coast of Ecuador, more than 8,000 kilometers (5000 miles) from their island home. Their nearly 3-year voyage of exploration, which ranges up to Mexico and California before heading west to Hawaii, finds them facing many hardships and dangers before returning for a final surprising conflict at home.

  “The tale is fiction, but it is based on archaeological and anthropological evidence and  widely accepted theory,” says Bonville. “It is an epic adventure that speaks to the will of ancient man to discover, learn and survive in the face of the harshest of conditions.”

  Bonville was inspired to write the story of the Malolo’s journey by his time living in Hawaii as a young man and his travels throughout the Pacific, as well as surprising historical evidence of the far-reaching travels of the ancient Polynesians. Written to engage and entertain as well as educate, the book is intended to appeal to readers that enjoy a good fact-based historical adventure.

  “Voyages of Malolo: Secret of the Rongo” is available for sale online at and other channels.

  About the Author

Robert Bonville is a native of South Florida, lived some time in Hawaii as a young man, and is a United States Coast Guard veteran. He served as a radioman on deep sea weather cutters, Antarctic ice-breaking expeditions and serviced coastal navigation devices before attending college on the GI Bill. Upon graduation, Bonville worked in aerospace and defense-related projects associated with quality assurance, engineering and management, retiring after 37 years. Robert is married with four adult children and resides in Arizona with his wife, Linda.


Robert Bonville

     Phone: (520) 777-3346


Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution to the WMBC.

1) Living on Maui as we do, this story holds many particular interests on several different levels. With that in mind, how does the journey of the Malolo compare to the real-life double-hulled canoe Hokule'a…noting that Hokule'a just returned to the sea March, 2012 to circumnavigate the world as an educational tour of ancient Hawaiian history. See also

2) Did you stop and think to as close a realization as possible what it must have been like for these men to travel into the unknown on such a larger unknown ocean to find the meaning and original location of where the Rongo belonged? If not, stop now and consider the vastness of the ocean with only a double-hulled sailing canoe...something not too much larger than today's more modern catamaran.

3) Early Polynesian sailors were considered the best in the ancient world. What did you learn about the sailing methods from the men of Malolo?

4) In reading this novel, did you find the complicated Polynesian names and words easier to understand and absorb because the sentence structures were uncomplicated? If not, why not?

5) The men of Malolo had individual skills that contributed to its operating efficiently and along the way they crossed trained. (In today's corporate society, similar practices contribute to similar successes.) Which of Bonville’s characters stood out the most to you and why?

6) While the Polynesians in this story appear to be very free sexually with one another including multiple partners, etc., what was your reaction to the banishment of Tunui from Taea for using his position of power for sex as kupuna over Kimo who eventually kills himself as a result?

7) What did you learn about the many ancient ways that Polynesians battled their enemies, ie: gouging and knocking the knees out from an attacker thereby disabling them and then clubbing them in the head?

8) Auka'i learns an important lesson from the Kunata forest men of Howling Island and that was to "not agree to anything until he completely understood the ramifications and consequences associated with each decision". Ha'upu could have been beheaded in the wrestling match between the Kunata and the Cicaque Indians and their "War of the Flowers". Would you agree that this is a lesson for us all while visiting foreign lands even though we are more likely visiting non-warring places? Would you also agree that while the men of Malolo were vey brave, they were learning a great deal about thw worlds they were happening upon?

9) Having someone on board the Malolo like Aka'lua who spoke sign language proved critical on many occasions. What does this say about the ability to communicate by what we see verses what we say and how we say it?

10) The voyagers of Malolo had seen both peaceful and warring peoples in their journey, none however, as vengeful and separated from their Hawaiian brothers as those on Maui and the island of Kauai who spoke the near-native tongue of Taea. What do you think this says of the migration of the Hawaii-Iki and/or the Taea? How did it compare to Tunui's torture of the people of Taea?

11) In the end, Bonville shifts from “destination” to “journey” and because we live here on Maui, is it possible we felt much had been waived given the historic (and bloody) significance of Iao Valley? Or, did you feel as the story unfolded, you too now understood all the symbols and spiritual messages to mean something other than what they appeared?

From the West Maui Book Club – Bonville expertly captures the required strength and courage the men of Malolo needed to have in order to make this incredible journey a success and return to their people…very much what it must have been like for the earliest of Polynesian sailors and warriors! There’s much to be learned in this story about these remote areas and its history.

Submitted by Elaine Gallant of the West Maui Book Club, Dec., 2011