Island News

Rebuilding Fijian Canoes Target Cicia, Lau Village Youths

The construction of Fijian canoes (camakau) is the next project for retired agriculture officer, Susana Yalikanacea, at Tarukua Village in Cicia, Lau. She said the older people on the island
01 Mar 2020 12:55
Rebuilding Fijian Canoes Target Cicia, Lau Village Youths
A Fijian canoe (camakau).

The construction of Fijian canoes (camakau) is the next project for retired agriculture officer, Susana Yalikanacea, at Tarukua Village in Cicia, Lau.

She said the older people on the island who had the skills in the construction of Fijian canoes needed to pass on the skills to the youths of Cicia.

In the past, she said canoe builders in Lau had their own building secrets, which they kept within the family and passed them down generations.

However, in this project she said the building secrets should now be passed on to all village youths.

The grandfathers with the canoe-building skills, she said would be asked to be involved in the project.

“We do not want to see these grandfathers die with their canoe-building skills,” she said.

Another skill in the construction of Fijian canoes, Ms Yalikanacea said was the use of magimagi.

“Magimagi will be used in place of nails and screws. The youths involved in this project will be taught the use of magimagi in the construction.”

Later on, this project is expected to include all youths in the Lau group.

The typical camakau today is approximately seven to nine metres in length and carries a single sail of the oceanic lateen type measuring about 27 square metres. The craft is single outrigger in design, with the outrigger (“cama”) being about 60 per cent of the total length of the canoe.

The main hull of the canoe has a round bottom and is made from a dugout log.

Strakes are attached to increase the freeboard and a deck is added to make for a convenient working platform and to reduce the amount of water finding its way into the bilge.

Camakau, like most outrigger craft, can capsize.

The usual cause of an overturned canoe is an excess of wind in the sail combined with another factor, such as the main sheet jamming, a weight shifting on deck, an unexpected wave, or the outrigger becoming detached.

To right a capsized canoe close to shore, the crew simply drags the craft into shallow water and raises the outrigger over the main hull.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback: maikab@fijisun.com.fj


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