Model Voyaging Canoe based on Hokule‘a

RDK Herman, 2017

Manaiakalani Canoe Model









Heiau, Palawai & Rail

Navigator Platform

Small Pieces

Sails & Rigging


The next task was to make and mount the heiau. These are the pieces that hold the masts in place. I used oak, and tried at first to carve them out of a single block using a band saw, but the results were not satisfactory. I could see that Hokule‘a's heiau were made of multiple pieces, so I resorted to that. I then lashed them down in the same manner as on Hokule‘a.



Finished heiau, lashed to the deck.


The two heiau, and the palawai (front splash board) attached.


I also had to make the palawai, the front splash board. Another piece of poplar, another bit of lashing, and that was done. Now it was starting to look like a voyaging canoe!


Palawai Hokulea

Front view of Hokule‘a, showing the palawai.



Palawai on the finished model Manaiakalani.



Finally, there is the railing. I used regular doweling (poplar, I think) for the posts and then ripped poplar strips for the rail itself. The posts on Hokule‘a are hao, stripped of their bark. They look very natural. I was aiming for that look but the dowels are more perfectly symmetrical.

How to attach it? Because I had not been on Hokule‘a when I started this project, the model was, at this point, not designed to attach the railing posts the way they actually are on Hokule‘a. I looked at my photos of other canoes and other models, and finally decided to do something radically different but OH SO MUCH easier: I drilled through the protruding ends of the ‘iako, alongside the pola, and sank them in. It was meticulous to get all the posts the right height. I drilled first, then stuck the dowel in and measured to a certain height above the deck, then took the dowel out and cut it. I numbered them all before I stained them, because each one was slightly different height depending on how deeply I had drilled into the ‘iako.

Then I lashed the posts into place—mostly for appearance's sake—and attached the rails themselves, lashing them just like on Hokule‘a.



The posts are drilled through the end of the ‘iako's deck support and sunk a bit into the ‘iako itself, making them very stable.



The finished railing on the completed model.


Rail lashing Hoku

Rail Lashing, Hokule‘a.

Rail lashing Manai

Rail lashing, Manaiakalani. The small scale makes things a bit less impressive!



Now I was ready to figure out the Navigator's platforms.

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