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The Maori Canoe

The Waka Haumi

The Waka Haumi

The term waka haumi is applied to a canoe of which the dugout hull is composed of more than one piece. Many large canoes were of one piece, hewn out of a huge log possibly 70 ft. in length, in some cases still longer; in other cases clear-boled trees of sufficient length were not obtainable, hence the haumi, or extra piece wherewith to lengthen the hull, would have to be obtained from another tree. Many of the larger canoes had one haumi, and some had two. In the latter case one would be fitted at each end of the hull; thus the dugout hull would be composed of three pieces. Polack speaks of having seen at Uawa a canoe named "Te Uru-a-tau" (so called after a deceased chief of renown) that was formed of four pieces tightly put together, was sixty feet in length, and six feet three inches in be^m." If this means that vthe hull was composed of four pieces, a page 113three haumi craft, then the makers must have had access to a very poor forest; a 60 ft. hull is not a very long one. It may, however, have been an old vessel, out of which decayed portions had been cut and new pieces fitted in, as was sometimes done.

According to the Ngati-Porou folk, the term haumi was, properly speaking, applied only to the piece added to the stern of a canoe; a piece so added to the bow was called putara.

The hull of a canoe, as distinct from any top boards, &c, is called the kaunoti in the east coast district, but hiwi in many other parts of the Island.

Fig. 32 The Haumi Tuporo Join of Canoe-hull.

Sketch by Miss E. Richardson

A canoe-hull formed out of one log, having no haumi, is termed a kotore-puni. Should any mishap occur by which one end of such a canoe was broken, then the injured part of the vessel was cut off and a haumi spliced on. Or if a log was not long enough to furnish a hull of the desired length, then a haumi was attached to one end in order to lengthen it. In some cases a haumi would be attached at both ends, one at the bow and one at the stern. The bow of a canoe is called the ihu; the stern is kei, or noko, or paremata; the keel is termed takere and tangere.

In an old tradition concerning the coming of certain canoes from Tahiti to New Zealand mention is made of three haumi in connection with one canoe, which would mean that such a vessel had two haumi at one end and one at the other. If this was so, it must have been on account of the small size of the trees used, which would necessitate the adding of three extra pieces to the hull. One might suppose that this arrangement would much weaken a canoe; but we must bear in mind that the Tahitian canoes had more than one rauawa, or top-strake—in fact, they had three. This would mean that such upper planks, continued right along over the haumi join, would tend to make the whole hull rigid, and prevent the various parts thereof working loose, so long as the lashings held; and it is known that, in long voyages, stops were occasionally made at islands in order to relash the parts of the patchwork vessels.

In connection with the above tradition of the canoes with three haumi, the expression haumi tuporo is used, which seems to imply that such extra pieces were square-cut and simply butted against a page 114similarly cut end—not fitted as the haumi of New Zealand were. (See fig. 32.)

The above notes on the haumi were contributed by the late Tuta Nihoniho, of the Ngati-Porou Tribe. The haumi tuporo mentioned represented a square butt join, an inferior mode of attachment said to have been sometimes employed by the Maori in the case of their smaller canoes. The ordinary method, called haumi kokomo, was much superior, consisting as it did of a tongue fitted into a corresponding opening cut out of the opposing section—a huge tenon and mortise, in fact. Tuta furnished the following additional notes on this subject: The haumi of a canoe had a large slot or mortise cut in it, into which was fitted the tongue projecting from the end of the kaunoti, or hull. The two wings, or projecting pieces of the haumi, on either side of the slot, were termed the paihau or kuwha; the projecting tongue on the hull was the kuru or ure. The slot was sometimes referred to as the aroaro. In order to secure the haumi to the hull, recourse was had to the usual method of lashing. Holes
Fig. 33 The Haumi Kokomo Join of Canoe-hull. A. Side view of hull. B. View from beneath. C. View from above.

Sketch by Miss E. Richardson

page 115were bored right across the end of the hull—that is, along the two sides of the tongue and on either side of the base of the tongue— the outer end of the tongue being the only part not so bored. In like manner the corresponding parts of the haumi were bored. These holes were bored with the tuiri, or stone-pointed drill, and were not diagonal, but pierced right through the end of the hull and that of the haumi. The latter was then fitted on and firmly lashed with strong cords of Phormium or Cordyline, the plait being a tamatoru, or three-strand one. Grooves or channels were made in the surface of the canoe so as to countersink the lashings. This was done on both the outer and inner surfaces of the canoe. If not so countersunk the lashings would soon suffer by abrasion, more especially those on the outer side, as when the canoe was being hauled to or from the sea. In some cases, when the join was a long one, battens might be placed over the join on the inside of the vessel, two at the ends of the two paihau, and one on either side of the kuru or tongue, but none at the end of the tongue. The holes to pass lashings through are kowhao matapupuni. (See fig. 33, p. 114.)

The square-cut style of haumi, with no slot, but butted squarely on to the hull, was a much more primitive method of joining, and was often termed poro harore. Presumably it was the more ancient form. Popular tradition states that it was Iranui who showed her relative Kahungunu the improved style: the tale is a characteristically Maori one.

Strips of dried butt ends of leaves of raupo (Typha angustifolia) were placed in joins of the haumi to assist in rendering it watertight. The main part of the hull, as distinct from the haumi, is termed the kaunaroa in some districts.

Williams gives mimira as a native word meaning "to fasten on the haumi of a canoe." It may be a form of mimiro, explained later on.

The punake is, according to Williams's Maori Dictionary, "the fore end of the body of a canoe, to which the bow-piece (tauihu) is fastened." Tuta stated that the name applied to the inside of the hull only, and merely to that part under or immediately behind the tauihu; the cable of the bow anchor was stowed at this spot. A freer rendering was the space between the bow and the first thwart.

The side of the hull is sometimes alluded to as the kaokao. The papa-kia-ra is the outer surface of the side of a canoe; the papawai is the outer surface of the lower part of the hull, and the bilge is the pawai; while riu is the hold.

A canoe from Whanganui (No. 1869), now in the Dominion Museum (see fig. 41, p. 125), has a short haumi, only 5 ft. in length. The kuru, or tongue, on the body or hull is 17 in. in length, 12 in. page 116wide across its base, and 5½in. across its distal end. The end of the hull outside the base of the tongue is not cut square, but as shown in fig. 33, C, p. 114.

The haumi is, of course, carefully fitted into these recesses. On the inside the joints are covered with battens, which are secured in the same manner as those covering the junction of top-strake and hull. Through holes bored along sides of the join lashings are passed that enclose and grip the batten. These holes are bored right through the hull and haumi, or attached piece, but no batten mars the symmetry of the outside, where the lashings are countersunk below the plane of the surface. In the vessel being described, after the lashing was completed the grooves containing the lashing-cord were filled up with putty, a very modern material.

A remark at page 166 of volume 30 of the Journal of the Polynesian Society seems to point to a ceremonial performance connected with the dovetailing of the haumi. It illustrated the popular story concerning Iranui referred to above.

Barth speaks of an African dugout canoe, 35 ft. long and 26 in. wide in the middle, as being made of "two very large trunks joined together with cordage." One would scarcely suppose that such a vessel called for "two very large trunks" in its construction. Moreover, this vessel was apparently formed of two pieces of about equal size, whereas among the Maori the haumi was essentially an end piece used to lengthen a hull. If greater length was needed, the Maori did not obtain it by a middle joining of two large sections, but formed his hull in three sections by putting a haumi at both ends. He preferred a solid structure for the middle part.

In fitting up the hull of a canoe, the first item attached was the haumi, or haumis,* if any; then the rauawa, or topsides; then the taumanu, or thwarts; then the tauihu, or figurehead; then the taurapa, or stern-piece—each with its appropriate ornaments; then the rahoraho, or flooring.

Our assembled tohunga whaihanga (artisans, industrial experts), having secured the haumi (plural or otherwise), now proceed to the lashing-on of the top-strakes.

* A vile form! O for the plural article!