Papa Mau: The Wayfinder

Papa Mau: The Wayfinder

Papa Mau: The Wayfinder is a feature-length documentary that takes a retrospective look at the influence of Mau Piailug, a native from the tiny Micronesian atoll of Satawal, on reviving the art of non-instrument navigation in Polynesia. In Satawal, navigators are chosen at birth and begin training at an early age, and Mau was recognized as a master.

In Hawai‘i, many aspects of Hawaiian identity, including non-instrument navigation, had fallen victim to Western influence. Motivated by a desire to reclaim this Hawaiian identity and pride, a small group of visionaries came together to build a voyaging canoe in the ancient style. The dream was to sail along the pathway recounted in oral traditions to Tahiti. The critical missing component, however, was a navigator trained in the traditional ways.

While the art had faded in Polynesia, it lived on in Micronesia, in Mau. He agreed to navigate Hōkūle‘a on her maiden voyage to Tahiti using only his knowledge of the heavens and the ocean. That union of navigator and canoe became a driving force, reawakening cultural pride and unity throughout Polynesia.

Papa Mau: The Wayfinder documents this 30-year adventure. It is a story of challenges, testing and mending of relationships, and even loss of life. But more importantly, it is a story of courage and hope. Sail along on this remarkable journey and share Mauʼs story of reinvigoration, reconciliation, and redemption of a people as the master wayfinder that breathed life back into the sails of Polynesiaʼs voyaging tradition.

ʻŌiwi TV reaches across generations, socio-economic statuses, and geographic locations as the sole media venue where the Hawaiian language, culture and perspective thrive. Through Digital Channel 326, ʻŌiwi TV reaches over 220,000 households across the entire State via Oceanic Time Warner Cable’s network. Through its website, mobile, and social media venues, ʻŌiwi TV is reaching Hawaiians everywhere and engaging a generation of Hawaiians that expect to access anything and everything from anywhere at anytime.


  1. kaleo9 12 years ago

    I would really like to know why Papa Mau left after the first voyage to Tahiti. I’ve heard stories about someone bringing navigational insturments on board the Hokule`a and that it was found prior to landing at Tahiti. Why didn’t you show what happened. We must always provide the truth and not try to hide it.

  2. oiwitv 12 years ago

     @kaleo9 theres nothing to hide and its not a conspiracy… the Hawaiians and scientists didn’t get along. They had different perspectives on what the voyage was about. A physical altercation took place on-board and that kind of behavior on a waʻa was unacceptable to Mau. 

    • Aunty Bobbolink 3 months ago

      Thank you for your clear answer. Much was learned about what happened and how to prevent it happening again. It’s something we could all learn in order to have more peaceful interactions.

  3. Pattis 8 years ago

    Kaleo9.just for your information. Its been in the blood line among the Carolinian Navigators.Our knowledge of the Navigating its been proving way before the Westerns discover our tiny need to educate your self about US the lands of the Navigators.They will named all the Stars in our Univers and which stasrs an island or Countries belongs to. .why you ask a stupid question about Our Navigators Poh?.You need to read more an educate your self about US..We have been navigating the Whole Pacific Ocean . Japan in the 70s try to prove US wrong. But, OUR Navigators before Papa Mau showed them how WE DO IT!!.the Natural way of Navigating…You need to read Micronesia History to understand and have Respect for our note..we (US) The Navigators ( Carolinian )Don’t have to prove to the WORLD THAT we can Master the Ocean.if we can go sail and visit our families from the other side of the Ocean? ? That’s all it maters to us..Keep on learning and read more..But don’t disrespect our Pa lhu elap…

  4. kaycee 7 years ago

    when was this filmed?

  5. Leilani 7 years ago

    It’s very informative and Educational to learn about my culture and other cultures.

  6. Jacques Blais 5 years ago

    Merci pour ce film.


  1. […] e.g., Nā‘ālehu Anthony (dir.), Papa Mau: The Wayfinder (video) (2010), available at (last accessed Feb. 18, 2013); Polynesian Voyaging Society, Hawaiian Voyaging Traditions: Pius […]

  2. […] also learned from Mau Piailug, a recognized navigational master of […]

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