Pinau was born on Thursday Island and raised on Murray Island in the Torres Strait where dance played an important part of his life. He joined the National Aboriginal and Islander Skills Development Association (NAISDA) in 1984 and graduated from the five-year course in 1988. Pinau was selected to do a brief traineeship with Queensland Ballet Company in 1988 as part of his course, performing in Expo '88 Brisbane and the Adelaide Festival. Pinau returned to Sydney 1988 to take up an apprenticeship with the Aboriginal Islander Dance Theatre and travelled with them to Germany and Finland. In 1991, he joined Bangarra Dance Theatre, touring with the company to Indonesia and appearing in the productions Up Until Now and Ochres.
In Bangarra' s production Praying Mantis Dreaming he took a leading role, playing several parts, touring nationally with the company. Pinau also toured with Bangarra to China and Hong Kong in 1992 and to the USA and UK in 1993. Pinau's film and TV credits include the ABC TY series Seven Deadly Sins - Pride Choreographers' Series and the feature film Bedevil directed by Tracey Moffatt. Pinau participated in the opening of the 1994 Adelaide Festival.
Pinau has had a longstanding relationship with Bangarra and has been a Cultural Consultant for traditional Torres Strait Islander songs and dances for numerous Bangarra productions over the years including I.B.I.S (2015) and Fire - A Retrospective (2009).