Story: Te tāpoi Māori – Māori tourism

‘The phantom canoe: a legend of Lake Tarawera’

‘The phantom canoe: a legend of Lake Tarawera’

Kennett Watkins’s painting shows the phantom canoe seen on Lake Tarawera on 31 May 1886. Although the picture uses clouds and moonlight to create a dramatic atmosphere, the phantom waka taua (war canoe) was actually seen in broad daylight by Pākehā tourists and Māori including the famous Guide Sophia. The vision was thought to be a harbinger of doom, and within 10 days Mt Tarawera erupted, killing many and devastating tourism in the area.

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Auckland Art Gallery – Toi o Tāmaki
Oil on canvas by Kennett Watkins

Permission of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Paul Diamond, 'Te tāpoi Māori – Māori tourism - 19th-century Māori tourism', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/artwork/23713/the-phantom-canoe-a-legend-of-lake-tarawera (accessed 17 September 2019)

Story by Paul Diamond, published 11 Mar 2010