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Te Pito Te Henua, or Easter Island, by William J. Thompson, [1891], at


Hotu-Matua is said to have landed upon the island with three hundred followers in two canoes, which are described in the traditions as 90 feet in length and 6 feet deep (draught of water). From the description given of these boats and the representations found of them among the mural paintings and sculptures in certain caves, the canoes of the original settlers were quite similar to the Fiji war-canoes. They were constructed of many pieces of wood neatly fitted together and held in place by thongs or lashings; high and sharp at both ends and balanced by an outrigger or smaller canoe. Such boats are in use at the present time in many of the Polynesian islands and are quite capable of making long voyages at sea. The boats built by succeeding generations were few in number and small in size, on account of the scarcity of material to be found on the island. Many of the early navigators refer to the seat-city of boats belonging to the natives. Captain Cook saw several canoes, 10 or 12 feet long, built of pieces 4 or 5 inches wide, and not more than 2 or 3 feet long, but the majority of his native visitors swam off to his ship. Captain Beechey saw three canoes on the beach, but they were not launched. Von Kotzebue saw three canoes each containing two men. At the time of our visit the only boats on the island were two large ones, belonging to Messrs. Salmon and Brander, built of material obtained from the wrecks on the coast. There are no canoes in use at the present time, but we found two very old ones in a cave on the west coast, having long ago passed their days of usefulness on the water and now serving as burial cases. They were a patchwork of several kinds of wood sewed together, and though in an advanced stage of dry-rot the material was sufficiently well preserved to prove that it never grew on Easter Island, but had been obtained from the drift-wood on the beach.

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