Likewise, researchers were not the first to learn that Maori travelers may have reached Antarctica so long ago; the feat was known in some communities, such as those near Bluff, New Zealand’s southernmost town, Dr Watene said. She and her colleagues drew on oral tradition records to understand the early connection between the Maori and Antarctica.
“People have very clear roots of transmitting knowledge and very secure methods of transmitting information,” said Dr Wehi, brushing aside the idea among some historians that oral tradition is an unreliable source.
“Why wouldn’t we find a continent if we found the most isolated islands in the world? Asked Keolu Fox, a genetic researcher at the University of California at San Diego, who is a native of Hawaii and did not participate in the studies. The native Hawaiians and the Maoris are both Polynesian peoples.
Dr Fox referred to a traditional double-hulled travel canoe built in 1975 that sailed around the world using traditional Polynesian orienteering techniques. “Do we literally need a Hokulea saddle to prove it to you?” “
In the fall of 2020, the authors organized a series of seminars bring together scholars and the Maori community to discuss this story. (The coronavirus pandemic derailed their original plan to meet in person.) Participants shared stories that expanded the team’s knowledge of existing narratives, like that of Hui Te Rangiora, and revealed some many new to attendees, said Dr Watene.
The team also consulted traditional sculptures, some of which depict the journey of Hui Te Rangiora and the presence of the southern oceans on the first sky navigation charts of Polynesian sailors. And archaeologists have observed ovens, piles and stone tools on subantarctic islands. dating from the 14th century, suggesting that the Polynesians lived in the area for at least a summer.
Researchers have found many more connections than expected in more recent history. In 1840, the Maori sailor Te Atu became the first New Zealander to sight the Antarctic coast aboard an American expedition to the Southern Oceans. Around the turn of the 20th century, Maori sailors were recruited for whaling expeditions for their expertise in spear fishing. And from the 1950s, three Maori men joined New Zealand’s Antarctic Program as foreman, seaman and diesel engineer. The engineer, Robert Sopp, carved a figurehead, inscribed with a proverb about friends, to be presented at McMurdo Station, one of the Antarctic outposts of the United States.