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The Coming of the Maori


The vessels used by the polynesians in their voyages are usually held to have been double canoes but single-outrigger canoes were also used. The double canoes consisted of two distinct hulls lashed a little distance apart with cross-booms (kiato) upon which a deck was laid. A deck house was also built to give protection against rain and sun (Fig. 43a). The single-outrigger canoes consisted of one hull with an outrigger on the port side (Fig. 43b). The outrigger was a composite structure consisting of cross-booms (kiato) lashed to both sides of the hull at one end and to a float (ama) at the other, either directly by bent booms, as in Hawaii or indirectly by connecting stanchions (tiatia) to straight booms, as in central Polynesia. The terms kiato for booms and ama for float are universal throughout Polynesia but the terms for connecting stanchions vary, tiatia being the central Polynesian term. The Polynesians were more exact in the use of technical terms than we are in English and as the outrigger was never an entity in their technique, they had no need for a general term to describe the outrigger as a whole. In the construction of the outrigger, the cross-booms had to be lashed to both sides of the hull, the float placed in position at the correct distance below the straight booms, the connecting stanchions carefully pegged into the float in the correct positions and the correct angles, and finally lashed to the booms to maintain the correct distance between the float and booms. The canoe was then tested in the water to see that it floated with the right balance and any further adjustments with regard to altering the vertical distance between the booms and the float were made before the canoe was passed as ready for use. The single-outrigger canoe was the type used throughout Polynesia for general purposes and there is no authentic evidence that the Polynesians ever used an outrigger float on each side of the hull to form double-outrigger canoes such as were used in parts of Indonesia.