Talking Story: Growing Lata’s Garden

Friends in Kauai, Join us October 13th at the Kauai Community College cafeteria for a presentation and Q&A by H.M. Wyeth and Dr. Mimi George.  We’ll be discussing how canoe plants are useful and sustainable today.  Presentation begins at 5:30 PM.  Hope to see you there!

Sustainable Sea Transport Conference

The Vaka Taumako Project’s Drs. Mimi George and Simon Salopuka, as well as members of the Holau Kaveia crew, will be presenting papers and holding discussions at the 2nd International Sustainable Sea Transport in the Pacific Talanoa, July 14-18 2014 in Suva, Fiji. Read more

Sustainability & How Ancient Vessels Are Better

Superior Design and Performance Features of Nga Vaka o Lata; Sustainability and How Ancient Vessels Are Better

abstract by M. George and Simon Salopuka, for the Sustainable Sea Transport Workshop, July  2014

From the 1500s through the 1960’s, Pacific islanders lost control of their land and sea resources, their health, and their dignity, as they were impacted by colonialism, world wars, and a global economy.  During the 1970’s until now, movements for “cultural revival” featured voyages over ancient sea roads using traditionally inspired craft.

These recent cultural revival voyages were made using mostly modern materials and methods. Chainsaws, epoxy, fiberglass, plywood, metal fasteners, nylon rope, and dacron sails.  The designs of most of the revival vessels were based on stick figure petroglyphs and drawings of artists who accompanied European explorers, like Captain Cook.

Only in 1993 was it learned by outsiders that the Polynesian people of Taumako, in the SE Solomon Islands, were still capable and willing to make voyaging canoes (Vaka o Lata) using only ancient methods, tools, and materials, and amazingly efficient and practical designs.

The superior and sustainable design and performance capabilities of Vaka o Lata include:

  1. a sail shape that has been proven in wind tunnel tests to capture radically more wind force than any other,
  2. a mostly submarine hull shape that is more hydrodynamically efficient that any other,
  3. an outrigger structure that has great integrity,
  4. various windlasses and lashing patterns that are extremely strong and that allow the structure to flex when necessary, rather than break,
  5. use of specific sustainable plants and materials for each part of the canoe, according to their particular strengths and qualities,
  6. no petrochemical in the construction materials or methods,and no fuels required to power the canoe, no toxic leakage,
  7. no need for docks, deep passages, or anchorages, and no damage the coral, electrolysis, or radiation,
  8. easily renewable from locally grown plants and hand tools,
  9. cost much less to build than modern vessels, and every bit of money would benefit the community that builds it,
  10. maintenance of the vessels requires only a shelter for it, and continuing access to plants and resources that grow on the island, 11) great cargo carrying capacity, comfortable, dry, and tabile platform, and shelter from the elements for cargo, crew, and passengers

In this paper we describe the particulars of Vaka o Lata and show how many of the design features are superior to modern vessels, in addition to being much more sustainable and practical.

The Cognitive and Cultural Dynamics of Taumako Navigation

A Preliminary Report by Dr. Marianne “Mimi” George
Prepared for the National Science Foundation 2009 Read more

NAVIGATION AND PILOTING USING TE LAPA

III. NAVIGATION AND PILOTING USING TE LAPA – FLASHES OF LIGHT THAT EMANATE FROM LAND 

Elaborations on previously conveyed and demonstrated data was given by Kaveia several other people who took voyages. A summary list of distinct characteristics of Te Lapa and a complex diagram that has comparative value for Marshallese diagrams is given here. Read more

NAVIGATION USING SWELLS AND WAVES

II. NAVIGATION USING SWELLS AND WAVES – “HOKOHUA LOA AND HOKOHUA KIKO”

Data was elaborated that added to and built upon previously conveyed data (during 27 inter-island voyages in the Santa Cruz Group and between Taumako and New Zealand in small sailboats during 1993 – 2005). The new data includes various drawings and discussions of how one senses the phenomena and how widespread it is, and in three demonstrations at sea (outside the fringing reef) within 5 n.m. of Taumako during the 2008 field season. Read more

NOHOANGA TE MATANGI – POSITIONS OF THE WIND

I. NOHOANGA TE MATANGI – POSITIONS OF THE WIND

A navigational system correlating a horizonal array of wind positions with other observable phenomena – e.g. swells, sunrise and sunset paths, celestial bodies, seasons, dynamic behavior of winds, solstices and equinoxes, voyaging routes, star paths, etc. – and built upon an awareness and perception of phenomena that are not taught in western navigation or seamanship. Read more

Authentic Polynesian Voyaging Canoe Sails Again

In August, 1998, the Te Puke named Vaka Taumako made its first voyage. For the first time in over forty years, a Polynesian voyaging canoe, a vaka, was built using completely traditional methods and materials. For the first time since 1963 a Te Puke voyaged on a traditional route. Read more

The Return of Lata: Building an Authentic Polynesian Voyaging Canoe

by Mimi George, Ph.D. for Sea History Magazine, Spring 1998 How were stone-age Polynesian craft built and how did they perform at sea?  What motivated Polynesians to voyage, and how did they find their way.   Until Paramount Chief Kruso Kaveia of Taumako, a Polynesian island in the southeast Solomons, asked me to help his people document […]