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Screening May 23 of re-mastered ‘The Navigators: Pathfinders of the Pacific’

In celebration of the launch of Hokule‘a and the Hikianalia’s Worldwide Voyage (WWV) in Hilo Bay, the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) is partnering with ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center and the county for a special showing of the restored and remastered high-definition film “The Navigators — Pathfinders of the Pacific” on Friday, May 23, at the Palace Theater in Hilo.

Opening remarks by filmmaker Sam Low will start at 5:30 p.m. Following the screening, there will be a panel of Hawaiian and South Pacific Pwo (master) navigators and voyaging leaders to speak about their teacher, the late master navigator Mau Piailug, and the WWV.

This award-winning film by anthropologist/filmmaker Low explores ancient navigational heritage in the tiny coral atoll of Satawal in Micronesia’s remote Caroline Islands.

In addition to interviews with Piailug in Satawal, “The Navigators” discusses archaeology and the accounts of explorers to examine the history of navigation and how traditional Pacific societies sustain this valuable cultural system.

“The Navigators” reveals the subtleties of this sea science, transmitted in part through a ceremony known as “unfolding the mat,” in which 32 lumps of coral are arranged in a circle to represent the points of the “star compass.” To master the lore of navigation was to attain great status in traditional Micronesian society. Today, few men remain with Mau’s skills, knowledge or aspirations.

In 2007, five Hawaiian men were initiated into the order of Pwo, a 2,000-year-old society of traditional deep-sea navigators by their teacher, Piailug, in Satawal. In 2008, four South Pacific islanders also were initiated into the Pwo by Piailug. Many of these men will be involved in the voyaging leadership panel discussion.

Opening remarks and introduction to the documentary by Low will be followed by remarks from Mayor Billy Kenoi and the voyaging leadership panel discussion at 6:45 p.m. The program concludes at 8:15 p.m.

The evening’s program is free and open to the public. PVS will accept donations in support of the Worldwide Voyage, whose major sponsor is Hawaiian Airlines.

Low served in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific from 1964-66 and earned a Ph.D. degree from Harvard in anthropology in 1975. In 1983, after traveling throughout Polynesia, Low produced this award-winning film, which tells the story of the Polynesian settlement of the Pacific. It has been aired on PBS nationally and on television venues throughout the world. He has sailed aboard Hokule‘a on three voyages from 1999-2007. He is the author of “Hawaiki Rising, Hokule‘a, Nainoa Thompson and the Hawaiian Renaissance” and many articles about the canoe and her meaning to Polynesians.

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