Sep 17: Make a twig raft

Build your own twig raft!

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Below are some talking points and activities to pass the time, all relating to today’s story.

Talking points

Discuss the ideas presented in the story with your family—at home or over video conferencing. Find ways to involve as many people as possible, especially those who you know are isolated by the lock-down.

  • What words could you use to describe the rivers in these pictures? Why do you think people want to paddle rivers like these? Would you be keen to try packrafting, after looking at the pictures?
  • The writer describes seeing a whio downriver. It looks at her then “crests a wave and disappears from view.” What do you know about whio and their habitat preferences?
  • We read about how rivers are graded from I to VI – Grade I being “water that moves” and Grade VI being “certain death.” Packrafting is described as giving you quicker than usual access to Grade II water. Do some research about the different grades and see what images you can find to help you imagine what each one looks like. Which ones would you feel comfortable to try paddling?
  • Packrafting turns “rivers into roads” and “opens up new routes across the map.” Do you think packrafting is likely to revolutionise the tramping experience and make a larger percentage of trampers carry a raft?
  • Packrafts are stable –you actually have to work hard to capsize in flat water and a beginner can make turns that would capsize them if they were in a kayak. However, new packrafters can get overconfident and find the harder grades take them by surprise. Does it sound to you like packrafting is a relatively safe sport? Do you think it will reach more people than whitewater kayaking? If it did, what problems might this pose for the kayaking community?

Activity: Make a twig raft

Embrace your inner-adventurer with this enduring boat-building exercise – the twig raft. Use strips of harakeke instead of string to bind the twigs and give your boat a Kiwi edge!

You will need:

  • 6-8 similar-sized twigs
  • 2 shorter twigs
  • 1 longer, thinner stick
  • A harakeke leaf (harvest according to protocols)
  • A large leaf for a sail
  • Scissors or a pocketknife

Step One: Working from the thin end of the harakeke leaf, split off a piece of string. Tie this around one of the longer sticks. Lay the long sticks in a row and working in an under, over pattern, weave the string across the other long sticks and come back through until the string has run out; then lash it or tie it in securely. Repeat this at the other end of the raft.

Step Two: Turn the raft upside down and use diagonal lashing to secure the shorter sticks going crossways at either end of the raft.

Step Three: Insert the longer, thinner stick into the middle of the raft and use diagonal lashing to secure it. This is your mast. Pierce the large leaf onto the mast and take your raft for a spin.

Send us a picture of you playing your twig raft!