Sailing The Canoe Back To The Future

Sailing The Canoe Back To The Future


Korova, Fiji

“Sailing the canoe back to the future”

 Once the islands of the Lau group between Fiji and Tonga were filled with sails. Our fleets of drua, the double-hull sailing canoes that carried many tons and hundreds of passengers at will across the central Pacific, were built in the small islands of my home. Fijians, Tongans, Samoans all sent families of their best boat builders to live in my islands.  The fast, ocean going ships my ancestors built hundreds of over many generations were made from logs and coconut rope and pandanus sails using only stone, fire, bone and sharksin and were powered by the wind. They had no metal, they had no choice but to learn to excel at their craft using only the materials nature supplied them with. Our islands are limestone, they have little soil and no water.  With this technology my ancestors converted the ocean from a barrier to a highway. The islands of the Lau thrived and our villages were full of people.  Today these villages are growing empty. We cannot afford the cost of fossil fueled powered ships to get back and forth, to trade and to visit our families. The effects of climate change are already being felt in weather changes, warming seas, bleaching coral. The old men no longer make fast, sustainable ships and teach their children to sail and know the ocean in the way my elders have taught me. We all know that a climate changed future means we face challenges greater than any generation before. For those of us whose communities still live on the ocean, we also know we are the “canary in the cage”.  We will be best equipped for this challenge if our communities can draw on the lessons learnt from our forebearers. They were strong people. Today I live not in the island of Moce, but in a small community Korova my uncles and grandfather built on the main island in the city of Suva. My grandfather sailed here from Moce with his sons on the last of the drua a quarter of a century ago, searching for better opportunities for education, health and employment for the next generation. But we have held onto the traditions and knowledge of sailing drua. To this day we have never owned an outboard motor. My dream is to sail back to Moce on a drua so this knowledge can be held generation to generation.  In this short powerpoint presentation I outline a short history of my community and the great canoes they once built. In telling the story of Korova and drua I wish to find the lessons from the past that can prepare us for tomorrow.



Iam 27 years old.Come from a family of 4 siblings who lost their father 24 years ago while sailing from our island to the mainland in searching for better life and education. I am currently staying with my aunties and uncles on a small piece of land close by the sea. This has really help us to keep our art of canoe sailing and boat building alive. In 2011 I was fortunate enough to sail on the Te Mana O Te Moana voyage preaching the importance of our ocean, our culture and traditions. My grandfather sailed a drua from my island to the mainland twice. My dad lost his life on the third trip. I really want to repeat what my elders have done,but from the mAinland to my island.

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