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> Developing a skilled community
While the focal point of this migration
story is the amazing skill of the navigator,
the construction of the boats was equally
Dr Pickering said a great deal of time
was spent making sure the boats were
"You don't want to be 100 miles
offshore when everything starts to fall
apart," he said.
The exhibition charts the evidence
for this way of settlement and shows
the cultural importance of the vaka, the
ocean-going vessel for the people of the
Pacific Islands, and the role of navigators
in today's times.
Those afraid of the mighty ocean would
do well to shut their eyes on the way into
the exhibition. The giant screen simulating
what a navigator saw from their precarious
position on the boat brings forth untapped
fear of threatening waves, especially for
those afraid of ocean travel.
This story is certainly an extraordinary
one, worth learning more about. More
than 4000 years ago, when Europeans were
just considering travelling out of sight
of land, these migrants journeyed over
thousands of miles of ocean with only the
stars and sheer courage to guide them.
By Meredith Clisby
human migrations of all time --- the
settlement of the Pacific Islands more
than 4000 years ago.
The exhibition's curator, Dr Michael
Pickering, said Vaka Moana had so far
thrilled the minds of visitors to the
"It's a great adventure yarn carried out
on the open seas --- people get excited."
Humans discovered and settled all of
the Earth's major landmasses by walking.
The exception, of course, was crossing to
New Guinea/Australia from South East
Asia --- unless people back then had a
special talent for walking on water, they
must have travelled by boat.
The central figures of this story were
the navigators who somehow found their
way across thousands of miles of ocean to
the land they were searching for.
The exhibition demonstrates the
navigation techniques and type of craft
used, as well as more than 100 objects
such as rare carvings and canoes.
Dr Pickering said the impressive thing
about these objects was that they all had
historical and cultural stories behind
them --- they were not just "pretty pieces".
People gain a sense of why these objects
were revered by people from the Pacific
The exhibition documents one of the largest human
migrations of all time --- the settlement of the Pacific
Islands more than 4000 years ago.
Where: National Museum of
When: Until October 18
Phone: 02 6208 5000
HISTORY: Ra'ivavae Goddess figure,
Austral Islands (270w x 300d x 640h mm)
Collection: Auckland Museum
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