Hare Vaka - Boat Houses

Easter Island - Rapa Nui

The remains of a Hare Vaka or Boat-house at Ahu Akahanga on Easter Island

At Ahu Akahanga, and at some other sites around Easter Island, you will find the remains of a Hare Vaka which is a "boat-house". There are none still intact today though but you can imagine that these small thatched houses used to look like overturned canoes.

How were the hare vaka built?

The round holes you can see in the some of the outer stones (the ones that look like bricks in the photo above) were for holding the end of a wooden pole that was then bent over and tied to another pole coming from the other side. Once these wooden poles were tied together, they formed various arches, much like a line of ribs. These wooden arches, the skeleton of the house, would then be covered by other branches, thatch and pieces of wood.

There would only be a small entrance to the hare vaka which was like a tube (similar to the entrance of an igloo) coming out from the middle of the main house part.

In front of the house you would find many small smooth stones placed in orderly fashion, much like you see at the front of some of the Ahu.

How big were the Hare Vaka?

The largest hare vaka measured 37 meters (122 feet) in length though this is not normal.

They were generally about 15 meters (50ft) long by 1.5-2 meters (5-6ft) wide.

We were told that the hare vaka were not very tall, only about 1 meter (3-4 feet) high. You could not stand up inside of them as they were only used for sleeping and keeping out of the wind and rain.

To sleep, the people would lie down parallel to the structure with their heads near the entrance (coming from the middle of the structure). The younger ones would sleep near the ends where the structure was narrower.

You may also want to learn about the Hare Moa or Chicken Houses.

NOTE: Rob W. and Ange P. spent a week on Easter Island at the end of January 2013 to produce most of the information, photos and videos we have here.

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