Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The island can also be spelled Hawaiiki, Hawai'iki, Hawaii'iki, Havai'i, Ra'iatea, or Kahiki in the various Pacific island languages, though Hawaiki appears to be the most common variation used in English. (The ii, i'i, ii'i variants are attempts to phonetically reflect a long I sound, with a glottal stop in the middle replacing the "k" in some variants.)
The Polynesian island of Hawaii, written Hawai'i in Hawaiian, is named in commemoration of Hawaiki.
Legend has it that the Polynesians migrated from Hawaiki to the islands of the Pacific Ocean in open boats, little different from the traditional craft found in Polynesia today.
The Maori people of New Zealand still trace their ancestry to people who reportedly came in seven named canoes (waka). A series on Maori Television in 2004, named "Hawaiki", started with legend but updated it in the light of modern science.
Modern science and practical testing of theories
Until recently, many anthropologists had doubts that these legends described a deliberate migration, preferring to believe that the migration occurred accidentally because seafarers became lost and drifted ashore. In 1947, Thor Heyerdahl sailed the Kon-Tiki, a balsa wood raft, from South America to show that Polynesia could have been settled from the east, with sailors using the prevailing winds and simple construction techniques.
However, DNA evidence indicates that the Polynesians may have originated from islands in eastern Asia, possibly from Taiwan, and moved southwards and eastwards through the Pacific Ocean. The common ancestry of all the Austronesian languages, of which the Polynesian languages are a major subgroup, also supports this conclusion. This indicates that at least some of the migration occurred against the prevailing winds and had to be deliberate rather than just accidental. The existence of islands may have been predicted by watching the migratory paths of birds.
Recently, boatbuilders have constructed ocean-going craft using traditional materials and techniques, and sailed them over the traditional routes using traditional navigation methods, showing such deliberate migration was possible.
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