09/04/2011 | by Alex Dick-Read
From the 1983 PBS film The Navigators: Pathfinders of the Pacific.
We were recently alerted (thanks Kurungabaa) to the passing of this great man, Mau Piailug, who died last year.
He was from Micronesia but Mau is important in the modern stories of Hawaii, Tahiti and other Pacific cultures, for enlightening them on the ancient art of ocean navigation. It is a skill that was lost in the colonial times but that’s central to the existence of Pacific island cultures. Hawaii wouldn’t be the Hawaii we know without it; Teahupoo would probably have a French or English name and surfing would not exist as we know it.
Mau’s skills of instrument-free ocean way-finding underpin the journeys of Hokule’a, the first of which – from Hawaii to Tahiti- was completed in 1976. Hokule’a later became famous in the surfing world when Eddie Aikau lost his life on one such trip as the vessel floundered off Molokia.
Mau’s knowledge, passed to him from his navigator father and uncle, is considered to be of major importance worldwide, from his home island of Satwal in the Carolines, where the youth began taking renewed interest in the dying art, to the halls of Western academia, via, of course, Hawaii and Tahiti, where a central part of their history was explained, validated and is being absorbed into their modern identies.
So, if you want to see a real waterman, take a moment to watch these two films. At the top is The Navigators – Pathfinders of the Pacific, made in 1983 and shown on PBS and BBC prime time tv. The second is from 2010 and shows a memorial service for Mau held by the fellow Polynesian voyagers.
Remembering Mau by Makaha Studios –