Pacific Conversations: Papa Mau Piailug and the pwo navigators of Micronesia

Mar. 27, 2021

Contributed by KS Ho‘okahua Cultural Vibrancy Group

A new episode of “Pacific Conversations” is now available on the Kaʻiwakīloumoku website. The virtual talk show hosted by KS Cultural Consultant Snowbird Bento KSK’93 and Cultural Specialist Lāiana Kanoa-Wong celebrates indigenous peoples and places throughout Monananuiākea – the Great Pacific.


This month’s show entitled  “PACIFIC INGENUITY: Papa Mau Piailug and the pwo Nagivators of Micronesia,” focuses on the extraordinary life of Pius “Mau” Piailug. Affectionately known as “Papa Mau,” he was one of the most transformative Pacific figures of the 20th century.

In 1976, among the last traditional navigators in the world, Mau successfully navigated the Polynesian voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa from Hawaiʻi to Tahiti without modern instruments. His profound demonstration of Pacific ingenuity quieted academic naysayers and changed the course of modern history for Native Hawaiians and indigenous peoples throughout the Pacific.

Papa Mau and his extended family of Micronesian pwo (master) navigators were recently recognized as a Pacific Legacy of Distinction at a virtual ceremony connecting atolls and high islands from Micronesia to Hawaiʻi. The ceremony was hosted by KS CEO Jack Wong on behalf of Kamehameha Schools, along with leaders from the Polynesian Voyaging Society, Bishop Museum and the University of Hawaiʻi – collectively known as the ʻAha Moananuiākea Pacific Consortium. It featured traditional prayers and the ceremonial drinking of ʻawa and tuba.

The episode also features Hawaiian Pwo Navigator, Nainoa Thompson who shares insights about his master teacher and the invaluable gift of voyaging knowledge from a region of amazing beauty and brilliance, Micronesia.