The 10 most important things one should learn and do whilst on Pitcairn
Kite Flying on Pitcairn
For those of you who don’t know, Pitcairn’s has a long history of kite flying.Most households have kites stored securely in wait for that breezy day. Once a kite is hoisted aloft, the word soon gets out and before you know it, there are dozens in the air.
A particular Pitcairn kite, the Lamborghini of kites as far as we’re concerned, is called the ‘Singing Engine’. Five sided by design, with an extended front which holds a taunt strip of tissue, plastic, paper or similar. It is this that gives the kite its name, the ‘Singing Engine’. High in the sky, as the wind passes over the tissue it makes a loud hum, like a swarm of bees, which can be heard from one end of the island to other.
It has always been an unspoken competitive sport – who has the brightest, whose goes higher and whose makes the loudest noise. As long as the wind keeps up, and the kites are securely tethered they can remain aloft, throughout the night and even for days.
Today though, Reynold pays Darrin and Brandon a surprise visit. He’s going to show them how to make the forgotten Pitcairn ‘Paper Kite’, as it is called.
The ‘Paper Kite’ is much smaller than the ‘Singing Engine’. Designed to be easily flown by children, the Pater Kite’ utilises easily obtainable materials, can be made in minutes.
It would be around 20+ years, at a reasonable guess, since the last ‘Paper Kite’ was seen soaring above Pitcairn.
Today, Reynold will once again take command of the skies.
To make a ‘Paper Kite’ it should only take you minutes to obtain the materials.
- A handful of leaflets from the fronds of a coconut palm.
- A bunch of ‘Rahulla’, a dried fibre found on the banana palm.
- A sheet of newspaper or a page from a magazine in this case.
Taking the paper and with a sharp knife, you carefully cut a teardrop or fish body shape.
Big is not what you want. The paper body should be no longer than 30cm in length maximum.
Once done, you now need to brace it.
This is where the palm frond leaflets come into play.
With your knife, carefully cut out the spine of the leaflet. On Pitcairn, the removed spine is called ‘Niau’.
It resembles a thin stiff cane, up to a metre long and, at the most, about as wide as match stick.
Taking your piece of ‘Niau’, slowly stitch it through the centre of the kite’s body length ways.
Now, do the same across the body. However, this time sew as many pieces of ‘Niau’ ,approximately 3 cm apart, to stiffen and reinforce the whole body. This may require 3, 4, 5 or even 6 lines of ‘Niau’.
if these things will really fly
Darrin and Brandon watch on, mimicking the master kite maker. At this point, Darrin starts to have serious doubts as to whether these objects will actually get into the air.
By now Brandon’s got the hang of cutting and sewing the ‘Niau’. He only has a few more lines to go to stiffen his kite’s body.
As the novice pair make their final adjustments, Reynold looks on, chuckling. What should have taken them 10 minutes, has drawn on now for a good hour.
Ok – the bodies are done. It’s time for the tails.
This is what we use the ‘Rahulla’ for.
Strip down the fibrous lengths into 1cm widths.
Tie these lengths end-to-end until you have a tail approximately 3-4 metres long. You may have to use two tails to provide the required stability if the breeze is stiff.
Reynold does a last spot check on his master piece, paying particular attention to the length of his kite's tails.
......Voila, a completed Pitcairn ‘Paper Kite’!
With phase one completed, kites in hand, the trio proudly march around and out onto the front of Big Flower
and that its securely tied
Out front, Reynold positions himself right out on the edge where there’s a good updraft. Intending to get his the highest, I’m sure.
Darrin aligns his kite, aims and waits for a good gust of wind.
Reynold’s kite starts to lift first. And before you know it, it’s zooming away.
Brandon’s catches a breeze.
Then Darrin’s zooms away.
Watching the ‘Paper Kites’ soaring above Pitcairn, there’s probably several things on Reynold’s mind right now.
I’m positive these are;
- “What a sight I haven’t seen for many, many years.”
- “I’ve passed on a near lost tradition to younger blood.”
And… “I WIN. My kite was in the air before theirs!”