Search our collections

Advanced Search

Object: Model drua (sailing canoe)

This image is All rights reserved. Image © Te Papa

Title Model drua (sailing canoe)
Production Kennedy, Alex, 2002, Fiji
Materials wood, plant material, synthetic fibre, glue
Classification models, sailing vessels, canoes
Dimensions Overall: 330mm (Height) x 530mm (Length) x 210mm (Width/Depth)
Credit line Commissioned 2002
Registration number FE011790

This is a model of a Fijian drua (double hulled sailing canoe).The drua was the largest and finest sea-going vessel ever designed and buit by natives of Oceania before contact with Eurpoeans. Its construction could be effected only by chiefs able to command the services of highly skilled hereditary canoe builders, a class restricted in numbers and location.

The building of large vessels utilised the skills of many other specialists such as sail makers, rope makers and paddle makers and was probably a great strain on the resources of a village or district. The drua was a double hulled canoe made in Fiji. Its Samoan equivalent was the `alia, the Tongan equivalent was the kalia. These vessels were of the same design and could range up to 100 feet in length.

The drua was constructed of carefully fitted planks built up upon a keel and stitched together with coconut fibre cord. The joins were caulked with dry coconut husk and gum from the breadfruit tree.

They were very large with one account from 1847 saying that "the fleet of Thankombau [Cakobau] sailed out this morning with not less than 200 warriors on board each canoe." Another account from the 1880s describes a drua 72 feet long with a hold 5 feet deep. In a double canoe 100 feet long the beam would be 6 to 8 feet and a man could easily walk in the hold without touching the deck. " A pig could be roasted whole in the open cooking place, and the food and water were easily stowed away for long voyages. On one occasion a drua carried 12 head of cattle in her holds from Natewa Bay in Vanua Levu to Levuka, a trip of 120 miles, and another carried on deck from Tailevu to Suva a cargo of bagged maize sufficient to load the Alarm ketch of 30 tons, and the Xerifa at 20 tons burden."

The steering paddles were also impressive. One of the largest measured at 33 feet long with a blade 14 feet to the shoulder and 21 inches wide.

Related information

Disclaimer: This information was created from historic documentation, and may not necessarily reflect the best available knowledge about the item. Some collection images are created for identification purposes only and may not be of reproduction quality. Some images are not available due to copyright restrictions. If you have information or questions about objects in the collection, contact us using our enquiry form. You can also find out more about Collections Online.