Te puke canoe

The boat is one of the world’s oldest forms of transport. It has been essential for the survival of communities from earliest times. Traditionally used for working, fishing, rescue, ceremony and transporting goods and people, boats today are more frequently associated with sport and leisure.

The wide variety of boats from around the world can be explained by the differences in people’s lives, the local conditions and the purpose for which they are used, as well as the availability of materials and the development of tools and technologies.

The Te puke canoe is a dug-out sailing canoe from the Reef Islands; a collection of 16 low-lying coral atolls in the Solomon Islands, in the Pacific ocean. The Te puke is a traditional polynesian voyaging canoe and has a distinctive crab claw sail which provides the necessary powerful sail area to make long ocean voyages. The process of voyaging within the Polynesian communities, from the early stages of the boat construction has always had a deeply spiritual element.

The canoe has one main dug-out hull, made from a hardwood and a high outrigger. It is capable of carrying a very heavy cargo and passenger load. A Te puke, sailing, can sail into islands over reefs or onto the beach.

Te puke boatbuilding skills are passed down from generation to generation, yet in the last fifty years traditional boatbuilding has declined. In order to preserve the heritage of this design, in 1996, a group of islanders began again to construct these craft and to teach the younger generations the knowledge and skills required to build the craft.

The image, lent by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, is of a model at a scale of approximately 1 : 12.