Kapa Canoe Plants | Maui Ocean Center

Park Hours
9 AM - 5 PM

Park Hours 9 AM - 5 PM

Hawaiian Canoe Plants: Kapa

Canoe plants are plants brought to the Hawaiian Islands by Polynesian voyagers who arrived centuries ago. These plants played an important role in the survival and cultural development of the Hawaiian people.


Canoe plants can be found all across the Hawaiian islands, from botanical gardens, to cultural sites, and even along hiking trails. When you visit these locations, you as a visitor will appreciate the resourcefulness these Polynesian explorers brought with them to Hawai’i.


Interested in learning more about Maui’s plant life? Reserve your spot on our Hawaiian Culture and Botanical Tour and dive into our island’s flora today.


Bamboo Stamps (ʻOhe kāpala kahiko)

Short, round bamboo stamps have three-dimensional patterns carved on one end. Using naturally derived inks and dyes, the stamp is then pressed onto kapa (Hawaiian barkcloth), leaving a beautiful pattern or image.


Wooden Kapa Beater (Hōhoa (Cylindrical Beater) and Iʻe kuku (Rectangular Beater))

In Hawaiian kapa making, the hōhoa, a cylindrical wooden beater, tackles the wauke bark first, pounding it on a stone anvil (kua pōhaku) to break down the fibers before further shaping with other tools. A rectangular wooden beater (i’e kuku) is used to finish.


Kapa Pounding Board (Kua la’au)

This anvil-shaped wooden board provided the final smoothing surface for creating a finer texture in kapa (barkcloth).


Kapa Pounding Stone (Kua pōhaku)

A large, flat stone anvil, this serves as the starting point for creating kapa (barkcloth). The kapa is pounded initially for a rough texture, then soaked in saltwater for more pliability before further beating.


Kapa Carving Knife (Niho oki)

The niho oki, a Hawaiian multi-tool crafted from hardwood and a shark tooth (usually from a tiger shark), served for cutting, carving, stripping, and shaving, and even self-defense.

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