Maryann Talia Pau

Maryann Talia Pau. Weaver, Mental Health Advocate and Ocean Lover

-<< Weaver + Mental Health Advocate + Ocean Lover >>-

Navigating Stars Concept: An OC6 Model of leadership – Download our article

Here I share a working document that you can download called Navigating Stars: an OC6 model of leadership.


Just click on the image to the right and download our article.


Co-authored with Mark Yettica-Paulson, a First Nations expert on facilitation, leadership and collaboration, we decided to draw on our Aboriginal and Samoan cultures of sea faring, star gazing and navigation and apply it to concepts of leadership, service and working through difference.


True to my reflective and playful nature, this document combines my new love for outrigger canoeing, (also known as wakaama for Māori or alo paopao for Samoans) with my passions for community engagement and project management, to reflect on the ancient practice  of outrigger canoeing.

I started paddling (which is not the same as rowing) 3 years ago with my local Outrigger Canoe Club, Bayside OCC, and I haven’t looked back (unlike rowers, who sit facing backwards, where as paddlers face forward in their canoe, kayak etc. But I digress.)


My original plan was to join a local rowing club when our family moved to Brisbane, but it was too far to travel to my nearest rowing club. After a little bit of research and a few free paddles with the Bayside Novice program in Raby Bay, I was hooked.


Although my main intention wasn’t to compete in regattas (races) but to paddle for fun and connection with the water, my desire to improve my technique meant a natural drive for competition alongside like minded people.


Not only is there a strong embrace of Māori culture here at Bayside, but there’s also a willingness to learn and encourage other cultures. For me as a proud Samoan-Australian, Bayside’s love for family and culture means a lot to me and it’s a strong reason for why this club will be my home club.


There is a wealth of va’a / canoe experience and skill at Bayside OCC. Between our coaches alone, there would be close to 100 years of paddling experience! Like most not-for-profits, this Redlands based wakaama / outrigger club relies on its members to volunteer their time and expertise to teach, lead and hold it’s community together.


This evolving community has weathered some profound changes and losses. While it appears to be a simple humble club on the outside, there is a n incredible amount of work and activity going on behind the scenes to sustain momentum and to create space for conversation to heal and expand.


I am still quite new to this club but through a deep love for the water and Pasifika cultures I have found a community that I am proud to call my family. 


Families don’t agree on everything and they certainly don’t all get along. However, at Bayside, my hope is that we continue to practise dignity for ourselves and enough trust for each other to carry our values and get on with the work of growing a club that is ethical, compliant, proud of it’s diversity and competitive on the water.

How do you navigate the stars?

Māori and Pacific Island people have a rich history of using the stars as a fundamental part of their navigation systems.


For centuries, these indigenous cultures have relied on their profound knowledge of celestial bodies to traverse vast expanses of the ocean and land.


The practice of celestial navigation, often referred to as wayfinding, is deeply rooted in their traditions and is passed down through generations.

In Māori culture, the star cluster known as Matariki holds significant importance.


Matariki, also known as the Pleiades, rises in the New Zealand sky during the winter months, marking the start of the Māori New Year.

How do you navigate the stars? Learn more at Outrigger and Va'a culture.

The appearance of these stars signals the perfect timing for planting crops and engaging in other seasonal activities.


Māori people observed the movement and positions of celestial bodies to navigate across the Pacific Ocean when exploring new islands and trading with neighbouring cultures.


Similarly, in Pacific Island cultures, navigation by the stars is a time honoured practice that has enabled their ancestors to explore and settle vast oceanic regions.


Wayfinders, highly skilled navigators, would study the stars, the moon, and other celestial phenomena to determine their latitude and longitude. By observing the rise and set of particular stars and their positions in relation to the horizon, these navigators could discern their location and navigate between islands without the use of modern instruments like compasses or GPS.


The art of using the stars to navigate represents a profound connection between Māori and Pacific Island cultures and their natural environment. It showcases their profound understanding of the cosmos and reflects the respect they hold for the celestial bodies that guide them on their journeys across the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean.


Today, efforts are made to preserve and pass on these ancient navigational techniques to maintain cultural heritage and the profound wisdom of their ancestors.

What is an OC6 in outrigger canoeing?

In the realm of outrigger canoeing, an OC6 holds special significance.


The term “OC6” refers to an outrigger canoe with six paddlers, making it one of the most popular and widely used types of outrigger canoes in the Pacific Islands and other regions.


These sleek and sturdy vessels are crafted with a traditional hull design, featuring an outrigger float on one side for stability in the water.

In the context of outrigger canoeing, teamwork is of utmost importance, and the OC6 exemplifies this spirit perfectly.


Each paddler plays a crucial role in propelling the canoe forward through the water, synchronising their strokes and movements to achieve optimum speed and efficiency.

What is an OC6 in outrigger canoeing? Learn more at Va'a / Outrigger Culture

The front paddlers, Seat 1 & Seat 2, set the pace and the rest of the team follows. A crew that is in sync can create a harmonious rhythm that reflects a deep connection between them as paddlers and their ancestral seafaring traditions.


The OC6 is not only a means of transportation but also a vessel that carries the essence of cultural heritage and camaraderie.


For many of our communities in the Pacific, outrigger canoeing is not just a sport but a way to honour their past and celebrate their unity as a group.


It symbolises the resilience, navigation prowess, and collective spirit of the people who have relied on these watercraft for centuries, emphasising the enduring importance of tradition in contemporary outrigger canoeing events and competitions.

A model of leadership

Just as the stars have guided Māori and Pacific Island people in their navigation across the vast oceans, the OC6 outrigger canoe serves as a powerful symbol of leadership within sporting clubs and business communities alike.


The principles of celestial navigation and outrigger canoeing underscore the significance of teamwork, collaboration, and synchronised effort.


In both contexts, effective leadership relies on harnessing the strengths of individuals to work harmoniously towards a common goal.

Within paddling clubs, the OC6 becomes a floating metaphor for leadership in action.


All six paddlers must communicate, coordinate, and trust each other’s abilities to propel the canoe forward efficiently.

The OC6 as a model for leadership. Learn more at Va'a / Outrigger culture.

A skilled leader within the paddling club knows how to foster a sense of unity among team members, encouraging open communication and acknowledging the unique contributions each individual brings to the group.


By empowering the team to work together cohesively, a paddling club leader can steer their crew towards success, just like navigating across vast waters with the stars as their guide.


Similarly, the principles learned from the OC6 can extend beyond the water and into the business world. The notion of collaborative leadership is highly applicable in any of today’s organisations.


A successful business leader understands the importance of building a cohesive team, where each member’s skills and talents are utilised effectively towards achieving shared objectives.

Just like the synchronised paddling in an OC6, a harmonious work environment fosters innovation, problem-solving, and resilience in the face of challenges.


The concept of leadership exemplified by the OC6 highlights the value of inclusivity and respect for diverse perspectives.


By creating an environment where every individual feels heard and valued, leaders can inspire their team to embrace a common vision and work towards achieving it collectively.


Just as the stars guided the way for ancient voyagers, an OC6-styled leadership approach can guide any sporting club, not for profit or business towards success, forging a path that acknowledges the richness of heritage, promotes cooperation, and achieves remarkable feats with a shared purpose in mind.

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