Program Detail

Papa Mau: The Way Finder

Na’alehu Anthony / USA / 2010 / 57 min / English / Color


Switching between scenes of social unrest in the 1970’s and visions of lush Hawai’ian grandeur, Papa Mau recounts a history of Hawai’i haunted by disturbing injustices, yet empowered by those still struggling to have the native voice heard. The first Polynesians to settle in Hawai’i set sail across the South Pacific, traveling long distances while relying only on the strength of their canoes and their knowledge of the heavens and the ocean. Now, a group of locals dream of reinvigorating their heritage by reconnecting with that past, specifically though the ancient arts of wayfinding and canoe-building.

First building their magnificently constructed canoe, they next seek the guidance of a navigator: a person who can read the stars, judge the sea, and measure distances using his index finger and the sunset. The search discovered a man named Mau, from the small Micronesian isle of Satawal, who was one amongst less than ten individuals in the world with the ability to wayfind in the Polynesian tradition. Born into the wayfinding legacy, Mau had a spirit capable of imparting his knowledge and an astute ability to nurture the crew in the midst of their arduous thirty-day quest through the Pacific to Tahiti.

“History has shown in many native cultures that the path to a better future comes by following in the wake of the ancestors,” the narration says over footage of a careening Pacific Ocean. This act of returning to tradition, by canoe or otherwise, is a microcosm for the propensity within each of us to recognize our heritage, and preserve our roots.

-Elizabeth Choi

Co-presenter: Halau O Keikiali'i / Kaululehua Hawaiian Cultural Center (3/11, 3/17)


  • Director: Na’alehu Anthony
  • Producer: Na’alehu Anthony
  • Cinematographer: Na’alehu Anthony
  • Writer: Leah Kihara, Elisa Yadao
  • Editor: Lisa Altieri
  • Sound: Gaylord Holomalia


March 11, 2012 12:00 pm
Sundance Kabuki Cinemas
Tickets not currently on sale

March 17, 2012 12:15 pm
Camera 3 Cinemas
Tickets not currently on sale


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