Art Works Blog

Art Works Podcast: Na'alehu Anthony

This week's podcast introduces us to Mau Piailug and his contribution to the revitalization of Polynesian culture. He is the subject of a documentary film by Na’alehu Anthony called Papa Mau: The Wayfinder.

During the 1970s, a small group of Hawaiians formed the Polynesian Voyaging Society with the goal of reclaiming a part of their heritage by building a canoe in the ancient style. Their dream was to sail the double-hulled canoe, named Hokule'a, from Hawaii to Tahiti using traditional navigation: the stars, the wind, and the sea. The problem was that the ancient art of navigation had become lost through the years. To voyage along the ocean pathways recounted in oral traditions, the Hawai'ian sailors turned to a man from the tiny island of Satawal in Micronesia. Mau Piailug, or Papa Mau, was a wayfinder. He held the secrets to open sea canoe navigation and he was eager to share them. He agreed not only to serve as navigator on the Hokule'a's maiden voyage from Hawaii to Tahiti, but he also became a teacher and mentor to Hawaiians who wanted to reclaim this heritage. This union of navigator and canoe had a tremendous impact not just in Hawaii but across the Pacific.

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