Story: Historic volcanic activity

‘The phantom canoe: a legend of Lake Tarawera’

‘The phantom canoe: a legend of Lake Tarawera’

Eleven days before Mt Tarawera erupted a number of people reported a disturbing sight: a ghostly, fully-laden waka (canoe) being paddled across Lake Tarawera, in the shadow of the mountain. The sighting was widely discussed, and received much attention from artists and writers after the eruption, but has never been satisfactorily explained. This 1888 painting by Kennett Watkins shows the canoe in a dramatic evening setting, illuminated by the rising moon.

About this item

Auckland Art Gallery – Toi o Tāmaki
Oil painting 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:

Eileen McSaveney, Carol Stewart and Graham Leonard, 'Historic volcanic activity - Tarawera', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/artwork/6840/the-phantom-canoe-a-legend-of-lake-tarawera (accessed 27 June 2017)

Story by Eileen McSaveney, Carol Stewart and Graham Leonard, published 12 Jun 2006