Story: Waka – canoes

Constructing a waka (1st of 3)

Constructing a waka

The Ngāti Porou tribe had a particular method of felling the mighty trees used for waka (canoe) construction. In the first step, illustrated here, a large stone adze was attached to a shaft. This was suspended by rope or aka (the stem of a climbing plant) from a branch high above. Several men then swung the adze shaft into the base of the tree, creating a groove or channel. The shaft would then be raised and the action repeated to make a second groove above the first. The block between the grooves would be chipped out with an ordinary stone adze. A trellis would then be built around the tree trunk. A fire was lit in the hollowed-out trunk, and long, stout poles were balanced on the fence with their ends in the fire.

Using this item

Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
Reference: Elsdon Best, The Maori canoe. Wellington: Dominion Museum, 1925, p. 91
Pencil sketch by A. H. Messenger

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How to cite this page:

Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr, 'Waka – canoes - Waka in New Zealand', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 25 May 2022)

Story by Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr, published 12 Jun 2006