comscore Matson names ship for first navigator to guide Hokule‘a | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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Matson names ship for first navigator to guide Hokule‘a

  • COURTESY MATSON

    Sons of late navigator Pius “Mau” Piailug, along with navigators from Hawaii and Yap, assembled in front of the Papa Mau last week. Matson named the ship in honor of Piailug, a key figure in the renaissance of traditional Pacific wayfinding.

A master Polynesian voyaging canoe navigator instrumental in reviving the craft in modern-day Hawaii has been honored by the state’s biggest ocean cargo transportation company.

Matson Inc. held a ceremony Thursday on Guam (Friday in Hawaii) naming one of its ships after the late Pius “Mau” Piailug. The ship, which serves Guam and Micronesia, was named Papa Mau after Piailug’s nickname.

Piailug, who died in 2010 at age 78, was from the Micronesian island of Satawal and shared his knowledge of ancient ocean wayfinding with Native Hawaiians. He navigated the Hawaii voyaging canoe Hokule‘a on its initial voyage to Tahiti in 1976.

Nainoa Thompson, a student of Piailug who became a master navigator and is president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, said in a statement that the Papa Mau ship honors Piailug, his legacy and what he has done for all Pacific people.

Bernadette Valencia, Matson’s general manager for Guam and Micronesia, said Piailug’s singular influence in perpetuating traditional wayfinding based on the stars, sun, currents and other natural elements inspired the company to proudly christen its newest vessel in his honor.

“As the Papa Mau navigates the islands in the Pacific for many years to come, we will be reminded of Mau’s far-reaching legacy,” she said in a statement.

The ceremony, held at the Port Authority of Guam, was attended by Piailug family members, Hawaii master navigators and members of Guam’s community with ties to the Micronesian islands of Yap.

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