The Australian Museum has in its collection a fine example of a large plank-built raiding canoe from the Western Solomon Islands. This canoe was obtained in 1915 from Roviana Lagoon where it is known as a tomoko in the Roviana language. These canoes are examples of great technical ability and artistry. They have been and continue to be important cultural symbols in the Solomon Islands. In this paper I review the history of the tomoko raiding canoes in the Western Solomons and describe their role in 19th century traditional society. I discuss efforts by the British colonial government first to destroy them and the political system they represented, and then to co-opt them as symbols of the new colony and subsequently the nation-state.