Canoes and Sailing

“Ko te iwi te wairua o te waka, ko te waka te wairua o te iwi” The people are the spirit of the waka; the waka is the spirit of the people. Maori saying

Vakas were (and still are) of great importance to Pacific peoples. In the past, they were the way to travel, trade, and get food. They were part of stories and the work of everyday life. The whole community had huge respect for them. The Pacific peoples developed different types of canoes and ways of sailing for different purposes.

In Aotearoa GLOSSARY Aotearoa - New Zealand , one of the last places to be settled GLOSSARY settled - came to and occupied in the Pacific, every Maori iwi (tribe) is connected to the crew of one of the big canoes that first arrived there. This is the starting point of their whakapapa (family line, history). Waka GLOSSARY Waka - Maori word for voyaging canoe , the word for canoe, can be used in many different ways - for example, to mean a project or voyage done together, both physical and spiritual.

Loving and respecting our vaka

Cook Islands wayfinding students Te Aru Rangi Reitu (left) and Kaiki Tarangi (right)

“We're introduced to this vaka as if it is our mother. We treat it with respect. We pray as we board, and we don’t leave the vaka until we say goodbye through prayer to the vaka and respect it right throughout because our mother will save our life. We need to love that vaka just like our mother. And another thing, whoever goes on the vaka adds to the mana or the prestige of the vaka, so thatís another spiritual way. The people who have stood on that vaka - and as we stand on it, we stand with them.”