Story: Canoe navigation

Rock drawing

Rock drawing

This rock drawing of a European sailing ship was probably made by Māori some time after European contact. Although Māori canoes were also depicted in rock art, they were not the double-hulled ocean-going variety, but single-hulled dugout canoes. The double hull was still in use, especially in the South Island, when Europeans arrived. But over time, canoes in New Zealand had been adapted to local conditions, and the single hull was more common. Although the expertise associated with building double-hulled canoes was still available, the skill of navigating them across open ocean appears to have been lost.

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Private collection
Photograph by Paul Thompson

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How to cite this page:

Rāwiri Taonui, 'Canoe navigation - Decline and renaissance of canoe voyaging', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 23 June 2024)

Story by Rāwiri Taonui, published 8 Feb 2005