Passing the Torch

I just watched the KGMB9-TV special Hokulea – Passing The Torch.

It was about the Micronesian master navigator Mau Piailug “passing the torch” to five new navigators.

From Wikipedia:

Born on the island of Satawal in the Caroline Islands, Mau received his knowledge of navigation from an early age, taught first by his grandfather. When he was around 18, through training of a master navigator, he went through sacred ceremony called Pwo.

Through this he became “Paliuw” by a master navigator, through the Weriyeng School of Navigation. Weriyeng School of Navigation, which began on Pollap Island a long, long time ago, is only one of two schools of navigation left in Micronesia.

He is best known for his work with the Hawaii-based Polynesian Voyaging Society, navigating the double-hulled canoe Hokule‘a from Hawaii to Tahiti on its maiden voyage in 1976, and training and mentoring Native Hawaiian navigator Nainoa Thompson, who would later become a master navigator in his own right.

On March 18, 2007 Piailug presided over the first Pwo ceremony for navigators on Satawal in 56 years. At the event five native Hawaiians and eleven others were inducted into Pwo as master navigators. The Polynesian Voyaging Society presented Piailug a canoe, the Alingano Maisu, as a gift for his key role in reviving traditional wayfinding navigation in Hawaii.

Alingano Maisu was built in Kawaihae, Hawaii under the non- profit organization, Nā Kalai Waʻa Moku O Hawaiʻi. The commitment to build this “gift” for Mau was made by Clay Bertelmann, Captain of Makali‘i and Hokule‘a. Maisu was given to Mau on behalf of all the voyaging families and organizations that are now actively continuing to sail and practice the traditions taught by Mau Piailug.

Hundreds of years before the Spaniards and English entered the Pacific, Polynesian navigators were moving back and forth around the ocean, and to and from Hawai‘i, without instruments. Five hundred years ago, Polynesians were the greatest navigators in the world.

In the 1897 introduction that Queen Lili‘uokalani wrote for the Hawaiian creation chant the Kumulipo (she wrote it while she was under house arrest), she noted that Hawaiians were astronomers.

We need to again elevate Hawaiian wayfinding navigator/astronomers to the highest level of respect, similar to how we feel today about astronauts.

In doing that, we will lift our keiki’s aspirations. They will take pride in who they are and they will see that anything is possible.

One way to do this is to continue practicing the sacred science of astronomy on our sacred mountain, Mauna Kea.

If the Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP) for Mauna Kea does not pass, it will likely mean the end of astronomy on Mauna Kea in the near future. Without the CMP, the Thirty-Meter Telescope will be built in Chile, and when the current lease for the rest of the telescopes is up, they will shut down and so will the astronomy program at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo.

We need to support the Comprehensive Management Plan and the Thirty-Meter Telescope for what they can do for our people. For our keiki.

We need to pass the torch.

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