17 Dec 2005

French Polynesia to build US$300,000 war canoe

8:26 am on 17 December 2005

The French Polynesian government is to build a US$300,000 war canoe, an exact replica of one of the 160 vessels observed by Captain James Cook on his first visit to Tahiti.

The news agency Tahitipresse reports the culture ministry has factored the expense into the latest budget.

The 35-metre Va'a Fenua will be able to carry 200 people including a hundred oarsmen, and will be used for ceremonial events.

A shelter and a workshop will also be built, to teach young people about canoe-building techniques, and star navigation.

The opposition party Tahoeraa Huiraatira has criticised the administration for going ahead with the project in the light of budget cuts in other areas.

Only one French Polynesian canoe took part in the 1995 multinational fleet heading to Hawaii.

The vessel had to be sunk off Raiatea instead of following the others to Hawaii.