The Canoe Is the People
Indigenous Navigation in the Pacific
Sir Tom Davis (Papa Tom)
Cook Islands canoe builder and navigator Sir Tom Davis (Papa Tom): I consider that the development of the big voyaging canoes, and the technology of navigation by people who became masters of it, is equivalent to the space programme for its time.
Canoes and Sailing
Ko te iwi te wairua o te waka, ko te waka te wairua o te iwi ... the people are the spirit of the canoe, the canoe is the spirit of the people.
In Aotearoa GLOSSARY Aotearoa - New Zealand , one of the last places to be settled GLOSSARY settled - came to and occupied in the Pacific, every Maori iwi (tribe) is connected to the crew of one of the big canoes that first arrived there. This is the starting point of their whakapapa (family line, history). Waka, the word for canoe, can be used in many different ways - for example, to mean a project or voyage done together, both physical and spiritual.
Canoes were (and still are) of great importance to Pacific peoples. In the past, they were the way to travel, trade, and get food. They were part of stories and the work of everyday life. The whole community had huge respect for them. The Pacific peoples developed different types of canoes and ways of sailing for different purposes.