The Waka Taua of Aotearoa

This was shot as the sun was setting on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island. We spent the evening at a charming cottage specifically designed with windows to welcome the sunrise and to enjoy the sunset by the brilliant owner. There was a pond where a replica of a Maori war canoe was docked.

Maori were the first inhabitants of Aotearoa (meaning ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’). After arriving from their ancestral Polynesian homeland of Hawaiki,
probably about 1000 years ago, they set up a thriving society based on the iwi (tribe), which flourished for hundreds of years.

Waka taua (war canoes) are large canoes manned by up to 80 paddlers and are up to 40 metres (130 ft) in length. Large waka are usually elaborately carved and decorated, consist of a main hull formed from a single hollowed-out log, along with a carved upright head and tailboard. The gunwale is raised in some by a continuous plank which gives increased freeboard and prevents distortion of the main hull components when used in a rough seas. Sometimes the hull is further strengthened, as in the case of Te Winika, a 200-year-old design, by a batten or stringer running lengthwise both inside and outside the hull just above the loaded waterline. It has been twice,at least, extensively rebuilt to retain its structural integrity. The resurgence of Maori culture has seen an increase in the numbers of waka taua built, generally on behalf of a tribal group, for use on ceremonial occasions.

A Waka Taua


6 responses

  1. I LOVE this! Colors, reflections, boats… all just come together in perfect harmony to create an absolutely compelling scene Erik!

    June 2, 2011 at 12:49 pm

  2. Lovely shot, but it looks a lot more like an old rowing 8 shell than a war waka! Perhaps someone was pulling your leg?

    June 2, 2011 at 7:31 pm

  3. milo

    great photo – how much of it was post-production and what was done – genuinely interested as opposed to criticising

    June 4, 2011 at 6:50 am

    • Thanks for visiting the blog – we really do appreciate your feedback. Originally this was shot as a bracketted 3 exposure for HDR processing, but it didnt work out well due to noise and digital artifacts from Photomatix. As it was shot in RAW, we could compensate exposure, adjust contrast and brightness and tweak saturation and color selectively. Surprisingly, the post work was quite simple and we actually had to tone it down a bit – the sunset was so amazingly saturated in color that it looked unreal (this was with the eye).
      Best Regards, Kerstenbeck Photographic Art!

      June 4, 2011 at 7:25 am

  4. Hello there, You’ve done an excellent job. I’ll definitely digg it and personally recommend to my friends. I am confident they’ll be benefited from this website.

    June 15, 2011 at 1:12 am

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