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The Coming of the Maori

Canoe Equipment

Canoe Equipment

The Maori paddles (hoe) differed somewhat from those of central Polynesia in having a long and narrow pointed blade which joined the shaft at an even slope on each side without any marked shoulder. Usually, how-page 205ever, the shaft had a slight forward curve at the blade junction which gave it a graceful appearance in side view. The upper end of the shaft was usually knobbed (Fig. 46). They averaged about five feet in length but the steering paddles (hoe urungi) were larger and longer with the upper end of the shaft carved, usually with the beak-headed manaia motif. Some paddles were carved or painted on the blade and they were used by the fugleman to mark time to the canoe chants. Steering paddles of famous canoes were given personal names, those of the Aotea being named Te Rokuowhiti and Kautukiterangi.

The sails (ra) were usually plaited from flax or kiekie leaves but according to Best (17, p. 182), kutakuta (Scirpus lacustris) was sometimes used and also raupo (Typha an gustifolia) by a lacing process termed nati (17, p. 184). They were triangular in shape and the only surviving specimen is in the British Museum. This was described by Firth (41) with good line drawings of the technical details. It is 14 feet 6 inches long, 6 feet 4 inches wide at the base, and 12 inches wide at the apex. The
Fig. 46. Paddle.a, front; b, side view.

Fig. 46. Paddle.
a, front; b, side view.

material is flax, plaited in check with narrow strips ranging from 10 to 13 to the inch. A zigzag, decorative pattern which from illustrations appeared to be due to coloured wefts, was shown by Firth to be formed by open work in the plaiting. The sail contains 13 segments (papa) which run horizontally and it is evident that each segment was added in the orthodox Maori technique of adding new wefts at each join in the continuous process of plaiting mats (Fig. 47a). Best (17, p. 185) states that "the whole sail was not made in one piece, but in several widths, called papa, which were afterwards joined together, just as seen in large native-made mats." In Samoa (95, p. 411), the sails were plaited in separate sections which were afterwards overlapped at their edges and sewn together with a separate cord but this technique does not apply to the British Museum sail nor to the large native-made mats to which Best referred. From the British Museum type sail, it may be said that Maori sails were made in one piece whereas sails made in Samoa and other islands were made of separate sections which were sewn together.

The side edges of the sail were folded back over a stout cord or bolt-rope and the fold fixed by two rows of sewing (41, Fig. 4). The outer page 206row of sewing made spaced turns around the outer edge of the sail and thus passed around the bolt-rope. Twelve served loops with seized eyes were spaced along each side of the sail and fixed by the outer sewing cord passing through the eyes as it passed around the outer edge of the plaiting. A long cord was attached to the topmost loop on each side, evidently for lashing the side loops to spars. The upper and lower borders of the sail were finished off in serrated edges and bunches of split pigeon and hawk feathers were attached to the upper border for decoration. A plaited streamer, 3 feet 6 inches long and 9 inches wide, was attached to the aft side near the upper wide end. The method of fixing the bolt-rope is similar to the Samoan technique but spaced strings attached to the sides were used for lashing to the spars. The side loops seem to be a local development in New Zealand.

Fig. 47. Canoe sail.a, British Mus. (after Firth, 41); b, set sail (after Best from D'Urville, 17, fig. 133, abridged).

Fig. 47. Canoe sail.
a, British Mus. (after Firth, 41); b, set sail (after Best from D'Urville, 17, fig. 133, abridged).

The triangular sails were rigged in two ways, vertical and slanting. In the vertical rig (17, p. 183), the sail was attached permanently to a mast and a sprit. The mast was stepped in a grommet made of a rope ring seized with a small cord and lashed to the side of a thwart. The vertical mast was steadied by a shroud on each side fastened to the mast thwart and a forestay and backstay attached to thwarts (Fig. 47b). The sprit was attached to the mast just above the thwart by a loose rope ring to allow it to move. A rope or sheet was tied to the sprit to manoeuvre the sail. In lowering sail, the sail was furled, the sprit tied to the mast, the braces released, the mast unshipped, and the whole laid along the middle of the thwarts. In raising sail, the mast was stepped and stayed, the sail unfurled, page 207and the sheet held. When a single sail was used, the mast was shipped near the middle of the canoe. Sometimes two and even three sails were used.

The slanting rig, termed ra kaupapara (17, p. 184), was evidently a true lateen sail. The triangular sail was attached to an upper spar or yard and to a lower boom. A short mast was stepped in a mast step made on the bottom of the hold and it supported the sail with the apex down at the bow, the sail making a low angle with the canoe hull. No details are available as to how the yard was stepped at the bow or how it was attached to the mast.

The lateen sail is characteristic of Micronesia, Fiji and western Polynesia but it cropped up in Mangareva. In the other parts of Polynesia, the vertical rig or oceanic sprit sail was in use. New Zealand is peculiar in
Fig. 48. Canoe bailers.a, carved (Bishop Mus., no. 1472); b, abnormal handle (Auckland Mus.).

Fig. 48. Canoe bailers.
a, carved (Bishop Mus., no. 1472); b, abnormal handle (Auckland Mus.).

having had both rigs but evidently the vertical rig was general and the lateen sail an intrusion that does not seem to be well vouched for.

The bailers (tata) followed the Polynesian pattern with a median handle projecting forward from the posterior rim. The large bailers for war canoes had a wide posterior rim which was carved to represent a human head on the flat (Fig. 48a). An inferior type was made with the handle projecting backward (Fig. 48b). The bailers of important canoes were also given personal names, that of the god Rehua being Tatataeore. From the carving and the general lines, the bailers were works of art with which there was nothing comparable in Polynesia.

Stone anchors (punga) were of various forms, from some ordinary stones enclosed in a net to large shaped rocks perforated with a drilled hole for the anchor rope (Fig. 49a). Some old anchors were believed to have been brought in certain of the historic canoes. The anchor attributed page 208to the Matahorua canoe is now in the Dominion Museum, that of Tokomaru (Fig. 49b) is in the New Plymouth Museum and the dumbbell-shaped anchor of Tainui, formerly partly submerged in the Mokau River (Fig. 49c), now rests on a chiefly grave in the Awakino Maori cemetery. Geologists of little faith would probably find that these historic anchors were made of local stone.