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routledge  : easter and pitcairn, 1915. 
Katherine Routledge  : Easter and Pitcairn Islands, 1915.

Extract from
Routledge, Katherine (Mrs. Scoresby):
The Mystery of Easter Island: The Story of an Expedition
Printed for the author by Hazell, Watson and Viney, lndiana, 1919.
 Sifton, Praed, London, 1920.
Pages 261 and 307.
www.googlebooks.com: The Mystery of Easter Island

One of several accounts of pora (reed floats) on Rapa Nui/Easter Island, this early 20th century writer specifically records their use in the  race of the Bird man cult.

"Following a suggestion from the British Museum, the Routledges set out on an extraordinary expedition, (1914–1915).
In 1913 they built a custom made yacht , which they named Mana or "Great Spirit".
It was a magnificent 90 foot Schooner which they then sailed from Falmouth, England, taking more than a year on a sea voyage that crossed halfway across the globe under sail.
Katherine wrote a book describing the trip, "The Mystery of Easter Island: The Story of an Expedition" which went into a second publishing.
She intended to write a more academic work in later years which never came about.
Scoresby and Katherine were the first qualified scholars to carry out an archeological survey of the island.
Much of their research has stood the test of time."

- wikipedia: William Scorsbey Routledge

In the report from Rapa Nui/Easter Island detailing the use of the pora (page 261), Routledge is apparently reporting a local narrative and did not witness the event.

A reconstructed race of the Bird man cult, apparently based on Routledge's account,  was filmed by National Geographic for their documentary Easter Island Underworld (2012?) with the contestants effectively paddling on pora.

National Geographic: Easter Island Underworld (trailer, 01:09)
The landing on Pitcairn Island was in response to an invitation from residents, Mr. and Mrs. M. R. Adams.
The reference to "pictures of Grace Darling" are possibly a series of Victorian paintings by William Bell Scott.

"Grace Horsley Darling was an English Victorian heroine who in 1838, along with her lighthouse-keeper father, saved 13 people from the wreck of the SS Forfarshire in a 21 ft rowing boat (a Northumberland coble).
Grace’s achievement was celebrated in her lifetime: she received a large financial reward, a number of fictionalized depictions, committed to verse by William Wordsworth, and depicted in a series of Victorian paintings by William Bell Scott."

- wikipedia: Grace Darling (edited)

Page 261

The Bird Cult

Each made up his provisions into a "pora," or securely bound bundle of reeds; he then swam on the top of the packet, holding it with one arm and propelling himself with the remaining arm and both legs.
An incantation, which was recited to us, was said by him before starting.
In one instance, the ivi-atua, at the same time that he gave the nomination, prophesied that the year that it was taken up a man should be eaten by a large fish.
The original recipient never availed himself of it, but on his death-bed told his son of the prophecy.
The son, Kilimuti, undeterred by it, entered for the race and sent two men to the islet; one of them started to swim there with his pora, but was never heard of again, and it was naturally said that the prophecy had been fulfilled.
Kilimuti wasted no regret over the misfortune, obtained another servant, and secured the egg; he died while the Expedition was on the island.

Page 307

We suggested bringing food, but that was declined as unnecessary.
The trip to the shore, even in so big a boat, is somewhat adventurous.
The landing-place is in Bounty Bay, below the precipitous cliffs off the north-east corner of the island, beneath whose waters were the remains of His Majesty's ship.
The shore is reached, even under propitious circumstances, through a white fringe of drenching surf; happily the Islanders are excellent oarsmen, for the boat is apt to assume the vertical position usually associated with pictures of Grace Darling.
A lifeboat sent as a gift from England in 1880 has proved too short for the character of the waves.
The village is gained by a steep path, cut at times in the rock, and at the summit we found standing under the trees a group in white Sunday attire waiting to welcome us.

Routledge, Katherine (Mrs. Scoresby): 
The Mystery of Easter Island: The Story of an Expedition
Printed for the author by Hazell, Watson and Viney, lndiana, 1919.
 Sifton, Praed, London, 1920.
www.googlebooks.com: The Mystery of Easter Island

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home catalogue history references appendix

Geoff Cater (2012) : Katherine Routledge : Easter and Pitcairn Islands, 1915.