The canoe was supposed to be used to educate Commonwealth children about the importance of canoes and its ties to Micronesia’s seafaring past.
Unfortunately, the miniature model of which it would be based on was thrown into the ocean and has since been lost, while the DCCA’s canoe house that is currently being built was vandalized.
Traditionally, when building a canoe, a smaller model is built as a guideline for the actual canoe.
Department of Community and Cultural Affairs Secretary Robert Hunter remains positive and said that another model of the over 40-foot canoe has already been constructed and is nearly done.
“Someone went and vandalized the area, although not badly. They did not completely destroy anything but they did go and throw stuff into the water and one of them was the model that [we] were working on…But [the canoe makers have] started building a new [model] and it’s almost completely done,” he said.
According to Hunter, a number of the materials that were to be used to build the canoe house were also thrown into the water, but he is not too worried because the wood that was thrown into the water is usually soaked in saltwater before it can be used for the construction of a hut.
Hunter said security measures have already been taken, like installing lights by the hut and, once the canoe is built and stored in its canoe house, the department will further invest in security equipment like surveillance cameras.
“It’s sad that people can go and do this,” he said.
Hunter said that the department is still hopeful that the canoe will be built in time for the Festival of Arts that will be held in Hawaii. It is just about getting specific resources that are rare on Saipan.
“We have already sourced all of the wood. Because it’s breadfruit, it’s hard to get, either from here or from Rota,” he said. “We want to have it constructed in time for the 2020 Festival of Arts in Hawaii where we are either going to sail it there or take it there midway and sail it into the festival,” he added.
According to Hunter, the process of building the canoe will start once the canoe house is completed and properly welcomed into the community through a traditional ceremony. Hunter said the canoe house is over 50 percent complete.