Economic Botany

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 148–162 | Cite as

Ethnobotany of ocean-going canoes in Lau, Fiji

  • Sandra Anne Banack
  • Paul Alan Cox


Traditional ocean- going canoes represent the pinnacle of South Pacific craftmanship, and Fijian canoes are among the finest. The special hardwood used by the Fijians for their canoes grows well on the island of Kabara, Fiji where canoe building expertise is centered. Native craftsmen were contracted to construct a canoe at Kabara. Twenty different species of plants were used in the construction of a Fijian “camakau. ” Wood was skillfully chosen by the carpenters with material constraints in mind. The glue, rope, and sail were also constructed from native plant materials obtained from Kabara. The importance of the canoe building technology in the Pacific, and the unique flora of Kabara shaped Kabara into an island of strategic influence in the South Pacific.


Hull Bark Timber Economic Botany Hemp 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature Cited

  1. Atchley, J., and Cox, P. A. 1985. Breadfruit fermentation in Micronesia. Econ. Bot. 39:326–335.Google Scholar
  2. Banks, J. 1962.In J.C. Beaglehole, ed., The Endeavour Journal 1768-1771, vol. 1. Angus and Robertson, Sydney.Google Scholar
  3. Bougainville, L. 1772. A voyage around the world. Translated by J. R. Forster. J. Nourse, London.Google Scholar
  4. Capel, A. 1984. A new Fijian dictionary. Government Printer, Suva.Google Scholar
  5. Coppinger, R. W. 1883. The cruise of the “Alert.” D. S. Sonnenschein and Co., London.Google Scholar
  6. Cox, P. A. 1980a. Two Samoan technologies for breadfruit and banana preservation. Econ. Bot. 34: 181–185.Google Scholar
  7. —. 1980b. Masi and tanu ’eli: two Polynesian technologies for breadfruit and banana preservation. Pacific Trop. Bot. Gard. Bull. 4:81–93.Google Scholar
  8. Finney, B. R. 1977. Voyaging canoes and the settlement of Polynesia. Science 196:1277–1285.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Haddon, A. C, and J. Hornell. 1936. Canoes of Oceania. Special Publ. Bernice P. Bishop Mus. 27: 1–445; reprint ed. 1975.Google Scholar
  10. Hocart, A. M. 1929. Lau Islands, Fiji. Bernice P. Bishop Mus. Bull. 62:1–241.Google Scholar
  11. Kirch, P. V. 1980. Polynesian prehistory: cultural adaptations in island ecosystems. Amer. Sci. 68: 39–48.Google Scholar
  12. —. 1984. The evolution of the Polynesian chiefdoms. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  13. London Missionary Society. 1799. A missionary voyage to the South Pacific Ocean (1796-98) in the Ship Duff, commanded by Captain James Wilson. S. Gosnell, for T. Chapman, London.Google Scholar
  14. Mariner, W. 1817. An account of the natives of the Tongan Islands, in the South Pacific Ocean. Compiled by J. Martin. John Murray, London.Google Scholar
  15. National Research Council, Commission on International Relations. 1979. Tropical legumes: resources for the future. National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  16. Seemann, B. 1865. Flora Vitiensis. L. Reeve, London.Google Scholar
  17. Setchell, W. A. 1924. Vegetation of Tutuila Island. Carnegie Inst. of Washington, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  18. Thompson, L. 1940a. Fijian frontier. Institute of Pacific Relations, San Francisco; reprint ed. 1972. Octagon Books, New York.Google Scholar
  19. —. 1940b. Southern Lau, Fiji. Bernice P. Bishop Mus. Bull. 162:1–224.Google Scholar
  20. Uphof, J. C. Th. 1968. Dictionary of economic plants. Cramer, New York.Google Scholar
  21. Wilkes, C. 1845. Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition, Vol. 3. Lea and Blanchard, Philadelphia.Google Scholar
  22. Williams, T. 1884. Fiji and the Fijians. Kelly, London.Google Scholar
  23. Yuncker, T. G. 1959. Plants of Tonga. Bernice P. Bishop Mus. Bull. 220:1–283; reprint ed. 1971. Kraus Reprint Co., New York.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sandra Anne Banack
  • Paul Alan Cox
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Botany and Range ScienceBrigham Young UniversityProvo

Personalised recommendations