War canoes and 75-year old newspapers


I’ve just spent an enjoyable few days in the far north of New Zealand photographing the giant Maori war canoe Nga Tokimatawhaorua. The 120-foot canoe, shown above, was completed in 1940 and carries 80 paddlers, and she is a fearsome sight to see close up in action. I was fortunate to be invited as it is quite rare to see her on the water these days; she is usually only launched for the commemorations of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in February of each year.


My trip north had a second equally important purpose though (at least for me), and that was to spend some time searching back issues of the Northern News at the newspaper’s main office in Kaikohe. I was there to find any references to Nga Tokimatawhaorua’s construction and launch, and there were plenty to be found in the bound and yellowing pages dating from the late 1930s.

As a side note, I must say that it was actually quite a calming experience to spend the day sifting through 75-year old newspapers; a task I prefer to scrolling through endless digital resources.