Wa’alele Restoration 2000

After being paddled across the Channel, transferred to Teesside and then paddled from the coast up the river Tees, Wa’alele was taken to Stewart Park in Middlesbrough and displayed outside the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum to mark the museum’s opening and the 200th anniversary of Cook landing in the Hawaiian islands.

Wa’alele arrives at Captain Cook’s birthplace

The canoe stood there outside for a very long time, only being used for a brief time in the 1980s in Germany for Olympic trials, and in 1988 when a mould was taken from her to birth Keiki Wa’alele (child of Wa’alele) and the first outrigger canoe club in the country: Kingston Royals Outrigger Club.

Wa’alele was an iconic feature outside the museum for years

Time was not kind and between vandalism, smashed sides, broken seats, filling with water, drilled holes and being used as a flowerbed she had a lot of work to be done to get her back on the water where she belongs.

With the kind permission of the Middlesbrough Museum Service the crew were allowed to restore Wa’alele. In July 2000 the work started to return her to her former glory. The wooden wae wa’a were re-carved to replace the originals. Some of the seats had to be fibreglassed in and wooden seat tops made. Holes in the hull had to be repaired. Then the whole boat was sanded down and repainted. Finally a sign writer repainted her name on the bow. Wa’alele was reborn!

The canoe was launched after the restoration work on the 8th of August 2000. She once again took to the water on the river Tees.

On the 16th of August 2000 the canoe was launched for a watersport event on the Tees as part of a summer play scheme. Around 300 children from Middlesbrough received certificates from Captain Cook, transported across the Tees on Wa’alele.