From J. Stanley Gardiner (1898), "The Natives of Rotuma," Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 27:457-459.
[WITH PLATE XXVIII.]
Of canoes two kinds are now made: a big one, used for fish-driving, the tafaga, and a small single one, used inside the reef in the boat channel, the tavane.
The tafaga (Fig. 6,1) vary from 25-35 feet in length, take from eight to twelve paddlers, and carry upwards of twenty people. A suitable tree is selected, cut down, and roughly shaped. It is then properly allowed to lie for a few months, after which it is dragged down to the hanua noho (village) which is going to build it. It is then hollowed out to the desired shape, the ends being left solid and the walls up to 2 inches thick. In the centre the sides would not be strong enough to bear the strain, and so are removed, fresh planks being fitted into their place. These are fixed by sinnet, holes for the lashings being bored through the planks; wedges are then driven in between from the inside to make the whole watertight. The sinnet makes the holes watertight, but pieces of sponge from the reef are driven in to ensure it. There is a distinct bow and stern, the former sharp and pointed up, the latter blunter and curved downwards. The first 3 feet of the deck at each end is covered. The breadth along the whole centre is about the same: 1 1/2-2 feet. The side towards the outrigger, or sama, is slightly straighter (Fig. 3) than the other. The outrigger is about 5 feet or rather less away; it is not quite half as long as the whole canoe. It lies usually on the right, or starboard, side, and consists of a post of light wood slightly pointed at one end. This is supported by two hard wood beams, driven into it, lashed across the canoe itself; the bend at right angles, which is necessary, is cut out, but can be, and was, frequently induced in the growth of the timber. Another beam runs just above the bend between these; to it rods of hard wood are lashed, previously driven into the post underneath (Fig. 2). A platform is generally made to take the paddles and carry the nets between the canoe and the outrigger; the paddle blade is of an oval form, 2 feet long by about 6 inches broad. The bailer is of the regular type, of one piece of wood with handle in the centre, and shaped to fit the canoe. The launch of one of these used to be the occasion of a feast. Kava was placed for the gods, after one of whom it was named and then supposed to be under his special protection.
The tavane is only about 12 feet long and 8-10 inches deep; at the top it is usually about 6 inches broad, but bellied out considerably underneath. The outrigger is about 8 feet long and supported merely by two crooked sticks, lashed across the top of the canoe.
The oie, or drum, is always stationary, and usually of very large size; it has generally a special roof. Its general shape (Figs. 5, 6) is the ordinary, but it is much more bellied and cut out deeper at the ends than is customary in Fiji.
The double canoe is not known now, and only one is specifically remembered; it was termed ahoie. In legends it is always referred to as the ahoie or the te bau rua; the former term I do not believe to be derived from English. Canoe sailing is a forgotten art, but the language possesses all the necessary terms for it. The sail is said to have been made of the fine mats. There is in the island one steer oar, belonging to a canoe of about 60 feet in length, judging from the relative length of the steer oar to the canoe in Fiji.