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Ara Moana – Ocean Roads

December 04, 2017 at 10:05 AM

Explorers, Adventurers and Traders 

Long before the time of celebrated European maritime explorers, the shores of New Zealand were reached by a wave of Polynesian migration. Departing the shores of the legendary Hawaiki some 1000 years ago, the giant Waka were challenged by the ever-changing moods of the Pacific Ocean. 

Voyagers tell the remarkable stories of New Zealand’s rich maritime heritage. Many of the world’s greatest maritime pioneers have emerged from our nation’s spirit of exploration and discovery. As part of the Boys’ School Year 5 Social Science Inquiry into ‘How we Organise Ourselves’, with a focus on how explorers and traders have influenced the world that we live in today, the boys embarked on a ‘voyage’ to the New Zealand Maritime Museum for a day of exploration and discovery of their own. 

Through time with the Museum’s Educator, the boys came to understand the bravery and sense of adventure that our early settlers needed as they left their home shore for New Zealand. Whether it was Kupe’s journey by early Polynesian waka, crossing the Pacific under lateen sail; or the long voyage by sea endured by Abel Tasman  and Sir James Cook, the first European explorers to reach our shores; or the ‘immigrants’ who left Europe from the 1840s onwards, the conditions at sea were harsh. 

They also explored why people were compelled to seek new lands and came to understand that trade played a large part in this as mariners ventured further to seek not only uncharted countries but the potential riches that could be discovered. As time moved on, this resulted in trade routes opening up as goods were exchanged. 

The boys visited the Hawaiki Gallery with the Museum Educator to inspect the various styles of Polynesian canoes. Here, new facts were brought to light. The boys were amazed to discover that no nails or glue were used in the construction of these great ocean-going waka. Even more incredible, the procedure used to lash the pieces together with sennit, rope made from coconut fibres, used no knots, as knots weakened the rope. They were told of the Maori digging the nails out of James Cook’s ship, the endeavour – an early example of an exchange of technology, as the British also came to understand the strength and value of flax. 

At the far end of the Museum, in total contrast, they visited the Blue Water Black Magic gallery, the tribute to New Zealand born yachting legend, Sir Peter Blake. Here the boys learned about New Zealand’s early foray into yachting technology that claimed the America’s Cup for the first time back in 1995, setting New Zealand on a sailing path to claim it again in 2000 and once again this year. 

The highlight of the visit for the boys, however, was a brisk sail out on the Waitemata Harbour aboard the Ted Ashby, a traditionally built, ketch rigged scow (a flat bottomed vessel) that, in the days of early cargo trading around Auckland, was ideal for working both the shallower waters of estuaries and the deeper water harbours. The boys were able to ‘get a little wind in their hair’ as they came to understand how sails are rigged and that the wind could be a primary source of power. Boys being boys, they loved hoisting the sails! As the boat headed under the Harbour Bridge they were delighted to witness bungy jumpers leaping off the bridge! 

The Maritime Museum is all about sea travel through the ages from the early waka to the most recent, technologically advanced America’s Cup designs. But it’s not only about the boats, it’s about the people behind them too. The boys came to learn a great deal about the sea-going explorers and adventurers of the past in a rich learning environment. 

Education Outside The Classroom is all about offering our boys learning experiences that extend beyond the four walls of their own classroom. Taking them offsite brings the curriculum alive with hands-on investigation, explanations and the input of specialist teachers who can provide expert guidance and tuition. The boys returned from this trip having learned a great deal, enhancing the investigative work they had undertaken at school. 

Our sincere thanks to the parents who accompanied the boys on today’s trip. Without your help, these excursions would not be possible.

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