Thursday, March 5, 2015

Ships versus Canoes

Before European open ocean exploration began, Eastern Polynesia had been explored and settled.  More than three thousand years ago, the uninhabited islands of Samoa and Tonga were discovered by an ancient people.  Arriving in probably a few small groups, and living in isolation for centuries, they evolved distinctive physical and cultural traits.   Samoa and Tonga became the cradle of Polynesia, and the center of what is now Western Polynesia.

Changes in the primary power mode of the larger canoes of the Hawaiian Islands from sail to paddling, followed by a return to sail.  Fast forward to post-‘contact’ and the time of the Islands’ unification; a new style of boat was in the islands and Kamehameha started to acquire and build them.  The first Western-style vessel built in the Islands was the Beretane (1793.)  Encouraged by the success of this new type of vessel, others were built.

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