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Ethnology of Manihiki and Rakahanga

Walled Traps

Walled Traps

The walled fish traps were made of coral rocks piled up loosely to form walls that emerged above high water. A trap was seen at Rakahanga in the outer lagoon off the island of Te Kainga. The curved walls converged to narrow openings which projected into inner chambers of the maze-like structure. The principle of the trap was derived from the tendency of the fish, in trying to escape, to keep along the walls and to miss the inward-projecting openings. Unfortunately, no time was available to plot out the plan of the Rakahangan trap. Phillip Woonton made a rough sketch of the trap near Tukou in Manihiki which illustrates the general principle of the walled traps (fig. 71). The traps were made in conjunction with channels frequented by fish, and the shape was influenced in some details by the lie of the channels and the depth of the water.