Tuesday, 25 March 2008 4:57 PM

Making Good Use of Soft Woods in Makira

The parego, or breadfruit tree as known in pijin, was chopped down to make way for a new house at Ganawe village near Kira Kira, the capital of Makira-Ulawa Province.

Although it bears fruits that are a delicacy, the fallen tree was of no use to the people of Central Bauro in the Makira-Ulawa Province, who do not use the tree for firewood. It has been long believed that firewood from that tree causes deafness if or when used, a belief that is still very strong today.

The tree is also of no use as timber because it is very soft and rots easily, and so the parego remains useless once chopped down.

However, one man saw better of the rejected fallen tree.

Eddie Hagariu, who had better ideas, split the tree into two halves for himself and another friend.

Mr. Hagariu and his friend set to work with their axe after having guessed the length of the parego.

A few chops here and few chops there over a period of two weeks shaped the split tree into two dug out canoes.

Asked what he would do with his dugout canoe, Mr. Hagariu said he would use it for fishing.

He explained that "a tree like this is good" as it gets "very light once it dries up".

"Out of this [canoe], I hope to catch a lot of fish for my family," he said while continuing to chip away with the axe.

Mr. Hagariu aims to complete his canoe after Easter.

"There are very few dug-out canoes in my village of Taratarau, so it's quite difficult to find a canoe," he added.

Questioned on his skills to carve a dug-out canoe, Mr. Hagariu said it's "look and learn by watching others".

"I was not taught but I learn by just watching how some men in the next village make their canoes."

Mr. Hagariu added that it's not an easy thing to do "but once you put your head and hand into it, it gets quite easy. Of course you make mistakes, but that's how you learn".

He however didn't say how many dug out canoes he'd made, but watching him work showed he certainly knows the art.

Dug out canoes had been and still continue to be the most popular form of transport in rural Solomon Islands despite the rapid technological changes.

Whilst it's true that a lot of Solomon Islanders now have outboard motor powered canoes, the majority around the country still dig their own canoes out of chopped trees because it's very cheap.