Model Voyaging Canoe based on Hokule‘a

RDK Herman, 2017

Manaiakalani Canoe Model









Heiau, Palawai & Rail

Navigator Platform

Small Pieces

Sails & Rigging

POLA (deck):

In my effort to make this as accurate a model as possible, I wanted the deck to contain the same number of boards as Hokule‘a itself. I had looked at other models and seen that the decks on them had been made with wider pieces, making for much less work. But the results, for me, were not as satisfying. Here is the model in the NMAI collection:


NMAI model deck
The deck on the NMAI model canoe.
NMAI Model deck

Close-up showing that it is made of few pieces.


And here is the 10-foot model at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo, Hawai‘i.

You can see that it's a single piece of board, and the lashing underneath is minimal.

Imiloa model
imiloa model


Finally, here is the model Jay Dowsett and Tay Perry made for an exhibition at the National Library of Medicine:

NLM Model

Much nicer, but only six boards. I used a photo I had taken of Hokule‘a and counted 13 boards. So I got my small-milled poplar boards and ripped them down to the right width to fit 13 boards atop the ‘iako, leaving a little room to spare—which, as we will see, proved very handy. I then marked out the positions for all the lashing holes, drilled them out using a drill press, and using my small scoop-chisel, cut grooves between each set of holes to countersink the lashing.

From there, it was a long and slow process of lashing each board to the ‘iako, starting with the center board and working outwards. I did most of this during NMAI's 2016 Hawai‘i festival, when the Hokule‘a crew (of which I had just been a part) was presenting on their World Wide Voyage. Alas, their photographer took a slew of photos of crew presentations and hula dancers, but not one of me working on my model. But I am satisfied with how it turned out.



Left: a view of the deck, after railings, heiau and palawai had been attached.
Right: a view of the deck lashing from underneath.

The next task was to make and mount the heiau, palawai and rails.


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