Te Rā: The Only Surviving Example Of A Traditional Sail

March 22, 2023, 11:52 a.m.

After more than 12 years, a group of dedicated and passionate weavers who are part of Te Ringa Rau Pa has completed the construction of a replica 200-plus-year-old sail.

The journey started in 2009 when a ropu of raranga exponents visited the British Museum in England to study the only known example of a weaved Maori sail.

Te Ra is her name, and she is nearly four and a half meters long and made up of 13 woven panels.

She's thought to have been collected by James Cook between 1769 and 1771, but this has never been verified.

Her origins, who made it, and what Waka it is off are unknown, but the methods used to build her were so complex and innovative that it took the team a long time to replicate.

Some construction and design methods were well ahead of their time and are still used today in modern-day sail building.

One of the weavers, Mandy Sunlight, said, "how incredibly complex some of them are and a lot of the techniques on this pre-European sail are still being used today; that's what I think is fantastic!

"It's just next level on every level. "

What was thought to be a diverse group of people to be able to build Te Ra was the case with the replica as well.

Many people have brought different skills to the team, making a dream a reality.

The next stage of the journey for the sail is for it to be tested on the water and hopefully built more so that it may be a common site on Waka once more.

Tags: rāranga Te Rā Te Ringa Raupā


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