llewlella churchilll : surfing canoes in somoa, 1901
Next morning, at daylight, we were awakened
by the firing of a gun, having reached our destination.
Mangaia is, in area, about 30 square miles, with a population of 1,400 Maoris and five Europeans, one of these being a Missionary. It lies about a hundred miles east of Rarotonga.
The greatest drawback to this island is the difficulty of landing ; a barrier- reef runs round the island, and the landing is only
practicable in canoe or catamaran.
To us all, it was extremely exciting ; as it was necessary there should be a guard of honour, also a number of blue jackets ashore, it was a serious business.
We all rowed to the edge of the reef in the ship's whale boats ; we then transhipped into a large number of canoes and catamarans worked by Mangaians,
who watched carefully for a favourable
opportunity (supposed to be at the in-roll of every eighth wave), and when
the moment arrived, with excited calls of the crew to each other to paddle
quickly, in a moment we were carried high on the crest of a wave
over the reef, and left stranded, a large number of natives rushing up to us, and, in the seething water, hauling us gradually into safety.
30 A TKIP TO THE OEIENT
Directions are indicated by mauka, toward
the mountain, and mauki, toward the sea, never
by right and left, as with us.
There are many amusements to attract
stranger, such as visiting the other islands,
watching surf riders, hula dancers, climbing
Diamond Head, Punchbowl, and Pali, riding
around Oahu on the railway, visiting shops of
Chinese and Japanese, sugar plantations and
mills, and attending luas â€” ^native feasts â€” ^if
one is so fortunate as to be invited to one of
With bows and arrows they are as clever
as all savages, and wonderfully good shots, at-
46 A TRIP TO THE ORIENT
tempting many wonderful feats. They
as deer, when they choose, though somewhat
lazy and indolent. The performers begin by
swimming out into the bay and diving under
the huge Pacific rollers, pushing their surf-
boards - flat pieces of wood, about four feet
long by two wide, pointed at each end - edge-
wise before them. For the return journey they
select a large wave; and then, either sitting,
kneeling, or standing on their boards, rush in
shorewards with the speed of a racehorse, on
the curling crest of the monster, enveloped in
foam and spray, and holding on, as it were, by
the milk-white manes of their furious coursers.
It looked a most enjoyable amusement, and I
should think that, to a powerful swimmer, with
plenty of pluck, the feat is not difficult of ac-
complishment. The natives here are almost
amphibious. They played all sorts of tricks in
the water, some of the performers being quite
tin}^ boys. Four strong rowers took a whale-
boat out into the worst surf, and then steer-
ing her by means of a large oar, brought her
safely back to the shore on the top of a huge