May 18, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

600 Year-Old Maori Waka provides Insights into Polynesian Explorers

2 min read

tauihu1332813142068New Zealand researchers, who studied the 600-year-old Maori canoe that was found back in 2012 at Anaweka, stated that the relic provided them with a valuable insight into the Polynesian exploration of the Pacific in pre- European times.

This 6-meter long piece of a canoe, also called the “waka”, was part of one of the two Polynesian canoes that are known to predate the European contact. This piece of a canoe was the part of the relic that was at Anaweka, on the remote northwest end of the South Island, after a storm had weathered away its resting place in a sand dune. It is believed that it was probably part of an ocean-going double-hulled waka that was up to 20 meters long.

The other waka was excavated in the Society Islands more than 4,000 km away.

Researcher Dilys Johns of the University of Auckland stated that until now, no one has seen anything this large and complex. Dilys stated that the radiocarbon dating technique showed that the piece was somewhere around 1400 AD. This period was that of ongoing maritime exploration and inter-island travel.

The researchers reported that the piece included a carving of a sea turtle. This design of the turtle was rare in Maori culture and had only been seen before on four prehistoric stone amulets. Explaining the presence of such a carving, the researchers said that turtles held very high regard in Polynesian societies as only high-status people were allowed to eat them. The turtles also featured in visual art, myths and rituals.

The waka also featured carved interior ribs. It also had evidence of repair and re-use. Besides, a study of its structure showed many structural similarities to the Society Islands waka that was excavated from a waterlogged site 30 years ago.

Source: Australian Tribune

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