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Hokule’a 2007 Voyage to Micronesia Bearing Gift for Mau Piailug Ku Holo Mau – Sail On, Sail Always, Sail Forever



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Hawaii's voyaging canoe, the Hokule'a, has undertaken yet another historic voyage across the Pacific Ocean, this time into the Western Pacific through the islands of Micronesia.  The Hokule'a which departed from Hawai'i, stopped on the islands of Majuro, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Satawal, Woleai, Ulithi, Yap and Palau and is bearing a gift, the gift of the Alingano Maisu, a 56-foot double-hulled Hawai'ian canoe with a single mast. The Alingano Maisu is a gift from the entire Hawai'ian voyaging community to the people of Micronesia and Mau Piailug, the man who started it all.

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In 1976, Mau Piailug, as its first navigator, guided the Hokule’a on a 2,300 mile voyage to Tahiti.  Hawai’ian voyagers built the Hokule’a and wanted to travel the ancient sea-faring route to Tahiti once done by their ancestors, but they needed a navigator.  They found their navigator in Micronesia.  The trip was done in connection with the American bicentennial celebrations and marked the first modern-day seafaring voyage without instruments on this ancient Polynesian sea-faring route.  Mau’s feat sparked pride in Hawai’ian and Polynesian culture and literally was the catalyst for a renaissance in voyaging, canoe building and traditional navigation that continues to grow today across Polynesia and even into Micronesia.  At the time, Piailug was then one of last remaining individuals who still knew the art of traditional navigation (using stars, waves, clouds, wind, birds, etc.) in the Pacific.  He was found on Satawal Atoll, State of Yap, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM).

A special man, Piailug was willing to share his knowledge with the Hawai’ian people where the ancient art of traditional navigation (without instruments) had long been lost.  He was also willing to share outside of traditional family circles when Micronesian custom dictates otherwise.  His immeasurable gift and love for navigation now reconnect Polynesia and Micronesia in a way that sparks pride in ancestral links and the shared cultures of once proud navigators of the Pacific Ocean.

The Alingano Maisu takes its name from a Satawalese word.  As once explained by Piailug, maisu is the word for ripe breadfruit that has been blown off the tree by a storm.  (Breadfruit is an important staple throughout the Pacific.) When such breadfruit, called maisu, is blown off the tree by a storm or strong wind, anyone can collect the breadfruit to eat, even if the tree is not his or her own.  The naming of the Alingano Maisu, Mau’s gift to the Polynesian navigators, and their gift in turn to Piailug and the people of Micronesia is symbolic of such fruit that has been blown down by storms and is now accessible to all people, not just the one who originally owned the tree.  “I want everybody to know, because I don’t want it lost again,” Mau Piailug once said of traditional navigation.

Piailug, who was born in 1932 and now resides in Satawal, FSM, learned the art of traditional navigation from his grandfather.  He was chosen at the age of one to be a navigator and lived up to that responsibility for his family, his people and the people of the Pacific as a whole.  Due to ailing health, he was not able to participate in this particular voyage of the Hokule’a, but the seeds he has sown live on in the Polynesian navigators and voyagers who lovingly call him “Papa Mau” and in his son, Sesario Sewralur, who was part of this voyage aboard the Alingano Maisu.  The Alingano Maisu will be homeported in Yap, FSM.

A map of the 2007 Hokule’a Voyage may be found on the Polynesian Voyaging Society website.

For more photos and more news of the Hokule’a’s 2007 Micronesia Voyage, please visit the Honolulu Advertiser website, the Honolulu Star Bulletin or the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

*Photos courtesy of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and Honolulu Star Bulletin.

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