Te Waka! Life histories of two contemporary Polynesian voyaging canoes
This thesis concerns the life-histories of the two contemporary Polynesian voyaging canoes from Aotearoa New Zealand. It documents the background, construction and voyages of Hawaiki Nui (1979- 1986) built by Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell and Te Aurere (1992 - 1998) built by Hekenukumai Puhipi Busby. It also highlights the historical and cultural significance of waka for Maori and other indigenous Pacific peoples. Based on my field work as a participant in Maori voyaging between 1996 and 1998, I argue that this revival of waka voyaging reaffirms the cultural identities of contemporary Maori and other Polynesians. The case studies of Hawaiki Nui and Te Aurere confirm the ongoing significance of waka not only in Aotearoa New Zealand, but Pacific-wide. Contemporary Polynesian waka voyaging is historically significant as it revives unique Polynesian skills, such as traditional waka-building, navigation and sailing techniques. It is also culturally significant, as it reinforces central Maori (and Polynesian) cultural concepts, such as whakapapa (genealogy ties) and whanaungatanga (sense of belonging). At a time when Maori (as well as other indigenous Pacific peoples) are constantly negotiating and redefining their cultural boundaries within their respective socio-political contexts, Polynesian voyaging waka are reappearing as a strong symbol of Pacific Islanders' cultural identities. As a symbol of a shared seafaring past they create timeless platforms for Maori and other Polynesians to negotiate the boundaries of their cultures.
Advisor: Kolig, Erich; Reilly, Michael; Moorfield, John
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: Anthropology
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis