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History of the Waʻa

The first Hawaiians migrated from Oceania in 1300 with a fleet of outrigger canoes (waʻa), bringing along their livestock and families they navigated using the wind patterns and stars. The outrigger canoe was first created in a small island chain within Austronesia using a hollowed out tree stump. When the people of Austronesia migrated around the Pacific the design of the outrigger canoe vastly evolved. From Micronesia they created a deep and sturdy canoe with a skinnier and smaller ama or multihull this was great for hauling items as it had higher walls and more storage. In Polynesia they created a more slender and longer version which was great for speed and slicing through choppy waters, this version was the foundation for the double-hull canoe which was the type of canoe that ancient Hawaiians arrived in. After settling the polynesian vaʻa was then revised to create what we know today as the Hawaiian Waʻa or outrigger canoe with a V-hull and pointed Manu ihu which guides the front with ease and aerodynamics. Traditional waʻa are made out of koa wood and carved with adzes. While a cheaper and modernized waʻa can also be seen made out of fiberglass or kevlar. a group of people flying kites on a boat in the water