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Vaka

Vaka

Over perhaps a 4-5,000 year period, the Austronesians experimented with many kinds of hull and sail designs, according to the resources available.

The invention or introduction of the sail in South East Asia, and outriggers constructed to stabilise a canoe with a mast and sail, provided a major technical breakthrough which made exploration of the Pacific region possible.

Model canoe, Fiji
Model canoe, Fiji. 1020l x 420w x 650h mm. Collection: Auckland Museum.

The vaka, ocean-going vessels, were generally safe and efficient and varied in design. The double hulled vessels of eastern Polynesia were capable of sailing safely and quickly over many thousands of kilometres. To simply call them all 'canoes' gives a misleading impression of the scale of the world's first ocean-going technology.

Reference: Howe, KR (ed), Vaka Moana, Voyages of the Ancestors, Bateman, Auckland, 2006.