Story: Canoe navigation

Early Pacific Island canoes (1st of 3)

Early Pacific Island canoes

Pictured here is the Tauhunu, from Manihiki in the northern Cook Islands. Made in the late 19th century, it has an ornamental oyster-shell inlay, and was probably used inside the lagoon and around the atoll’s edges. Like many canoes it could be either sailed or paddled. When it was sailed, one or two V-shaped sails made from pandanus leaves were used. Like most Polynesian canoes, the Tauhunu was constructed from several wooden sections sewn together with coconut fibre. This method did not prevent leakage, and with slop also coming over the sides, bailing would have been necessary.

Using this item

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Reference: F.006489/05

Permission of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Rāwiri Taonui, 'Canoe navigation - Waka – canoes', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 23 July 2024)

Story by Rāwiri Taonui, published 8 Feb 2005