15 Jul 2010

Legendary FSM master navigator dies

11:08 am on 15 July 2010

The legendary Micronesian master navigator, Mau Piailug, died on his home island of Satawal in the Federated States of Micronesia over the weekend.

He was 78 and had suffered from diabetes for many years.

Piailug is credited with a revival of ancient navigational skills used by Pacific explorers - using only observations of stars, moon, wind, currents and birds to cross the ocean, long before Western explorers arrived.

Working with the Hawaii-based Polynesian Voyaging Society, Piailug in 1976 navigated the double-hulled voyaging canoe Hokule'a from Hawaii to Tahiti on its maiden voyage.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser newspaper quotes the President of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, Nainoa Thompson - calling Piailug a giant among Pacific islanders whose contributions to cultural preservation were beyond measure.