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 waka; the waka is the spirit of the people. Maori saying

Vakas 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.

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 GLOSSARY Waka - Maori word for voyaging canoe , 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.

The tikitiki tangata design

Maori carver Te Aturangi Nepia Clamp

“On Te Au O Tonga, around the canoe there's a design called tikitiki tangata, which is a design that, when you look at it, it's people's hands linked, and that goes all the way around the canoe. Now, that's a design that was put on there to protect the canoe. That's a carving that represents our ancestors, that represents our genealogy, and that represents our kaitiaki, which are our guardians.”