Northlanders have a chance to see first-hand how Norwegian seafarers built traditional wooden boats in the 18th century.

Ulf Mikalsen, from Norway's far north, has been brought to New Zealand by a newly formed educational trust to help set up a wooden boatbuilding course.

He will be in Russell until the end of February making a traditional Nordic boat and working with local boatbuilders to develop a syllabus.

The course will be offered later this year by Adventure for Good, which aims to provide practical, ecologically-sound instruction and maritime research opportunities for scientists.


Mr Mikalsen said there were about 8000 traditional boats in Norway like the one he was making in Russell.

"The Nordic boat is not the best boat in the world, or the best for rowing or for fishing. But, in the 18th century, when it was very popular, it was the best combination and under sail it has a good feeling," he said.

Adventure for Good founder Christian Pera said anyone was welcome to drop in and see Mr Mikalsen working at 22 York St, Russell.

The boat he was making would look like a clinker-built dinghy but with a more promi-nent bow and stern, like a Viking boat in miniature. Unlike boats built in Norway it would be made from cedar and teak.

Mr Pera said the trust's connection with Mr Mikalsen came through one of its members, Jamie Gallant, a documentary maker who made a film about him. The trust had paid for his trip to New Zealand, "but he's more than paying his way by the knowledge he's bringing and the spirit of his work".

Mr Mikalsen hails from Kjerringoy, nearly 200km north of the Arctic Circle. He started building boats by felling spruce trees from a local forest while still in his teens.