Saturday, 8 July 2017

winter learning journey

Story Summary

All images & media in this story
In the past, Māori used waka (canoes) just as we use cars today. New Zealand’s waterways were like roads, running along the coast and up rivers. Waka would be paddled along them, carrying people and goods. Some Māori still build traditional waka today.

Polynesian voyaging waka

The first settlers arrived in Aotearoa (New Zealand) in large waka from Polynesia. The journey lasted up to a month, and the waka were big enough to carry many people and enough food. These ancient craft were probably double-hulled – rather like two canoes side by side. Māori tribes trace their ancestors from these important waka.

Waka in New Zealand

Waka are built from tree trunks. In Polynesia, waka were narrow and not very stable, because they were carved from narrow trees. Some canoes had outriggers at the side to keep them steady. But New Zealand had vast forests of big trees such as tōtara and kauri. Māori built wider waka that were more stable in the water, with no outriggers.

Waka taua – the largest waka

These were up to 30 metres long, and some could hold 100 people. They were beautifully carved at front and back. Warriors used them to go to battle, and the vessels were considered to be sacred.

Waka tētē – fishing canoes

Waka tētē had simpler carving than waka taua. Tribal groups used them to carry goods and people along rivers and the coast. Later they were used for trading at ports such as Auckland.

Mōkihi – rafts

In the North Island the Ngāti Porou people made fishing rafts from layers of wood, tied together with vines. South Island tribes made them by lashing together bundles of dry bulrushes or flax flower stalks.

Waka tīwai – river canoes

These were very common, and were also used for fun and for racing. They were light and swift enough to jump over logs in the water.

Parts of the waka

Most vessels had the same basic parts:
  • hiwi (hull): the body of the canoe
  • tauihu (prow): the front
  • taurapa (stern): the back
  • rauawa (gunwales): the upper edges along each side.
Waka were usually moved with wooden paddles or poles. Some had sails made of raupō (a reed) or flax. The anchors were stones tied with rope. 
click here wakas for more

1 comment:

  1. Kia ora Lucy,

    Wow, it looks as though there are, at least, 45 people paddling the large waka in the front (foreground) of the picture posted above. That is a huge number! Have you ever had the chance to paddle a real waka?

    I grew up in Canada where we have canoes. They are similar to waka, however, they're quite a bit smaller and they are paddled by two or three people (at the most). I really enjoyed going on canoe trips as a young girl. Sometimes my family would pack up our canoes and go into a big national park for three or four days of camping and canoeing. Often we would paddle on more than one lake and we would have to carry our packs and our canoes from one lake to the next. It was pretty difficult, however, I am convinced that it would have been even harder if we had been asked to carry wakas, instead of canoes!

    I hope that you enjoyed learning more about wakas for this activity. We aren't able to give you full points because you copied and pasted the information from a website. To earn full points, you need to write the information into your own words.

    Bye for now :)