The Canoe Is the People
Indigenous Navigation in the Pacific
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.
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.