Photo Navukinivanua P.99803.VH

[singlepic id=365 w=450 h=250 float=none]Navukinivanua
One of the last great drua, named Navukinivanua (the turner of the land), with members of Cakobau’s family and his retainers. The name likely refers to the changing political situation following Fiji’s cession to Britain in 1874. The canoe was presented by Cakobau (chief of Bau) to Lady Gordon in Nasova, Ovalau Island in November 1877.
Fiji. Photographed by F. Dufty. P.99803.VH

It is a great double canoe, decked over and with a sort of a deck-house. It is over 100 feet long, and had more than 100 people on board, including Adi Kuila [Cakobau’s daughter] and some other ladies who were seated on a bench in the deck-house. It looked very pretty as it glided out from behind the point, with its enormous mat sail, and accompanied by scores of smaller canoes, all with sails of the same picturesque cut and of the same warm, yellow-brown mat, and coloured streamers floating from their crescent-shaped mast-heads. Sir Arthur Gordon’s papers, October 1877.

Drua travelled long distances throughout Western Polynesia. During the early/mid 19th century, some of these measured over 30 metres in length and were capable of carrying well over 100 men. Refinements in the design and construction of these remarkable vessels incorporated specialist knowledge and skills developed throughout the Pacific region. The Fijian feature of having unequally sized hulls facilitated handling. Hulls were constructed of logs, bored and fitted with ribs and lashed together with coir binding.

The method of planking was introduced into the Lau region of Fiji in the second half of the 18th century by canoe-builders of Samoan origin. Performance was greatly improved by the adaptation of Micronesian rigging and a flexible sail plan, whereby the canoe became amphidromous and could move forward in either direction. A house and platform, typically reserved for chiefs and their retinue, was centrally positioned on top of the deck.

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