Canoe sails from Tahiti to Tauranga guided by stars

The Tahitian double-hulled canoe, Fa'afaite

The double-hulled sailing canoe Fa’afaite arrived in Tauranga Harbour yesterday, after leaving Tahiti and crossing the Pacific using traditional navigation.

Canoe sails from Tahiti to Tauranga guided by stars

Polynesian culture is the culture of the indigenous peoples of Polynesia who share common traits in language, customs and society. Maternal mitochondrial DNA analysis suggests that Polynesians, including Samoans, Tongans, Niueans, Cook Islanders, Tahitians, Hawaiians, Marquesans and Māori, are genetically linked to indigenous peoples of parts of Maritime Southeast Asia including those of Taiwanese aborigines. This DNA evidence is supported by linguistic and archaeological evidence.

Recent studies into paternal Y chromosome analysis shows that Polynesians are also genetically linked to peoples of Melanesia. Between about 2000 and 1000 BC speakers of Austronesian languages spread through Maritime South-East Asia – almost certainly starting out from Taiwan – into the edges of western Micronesia and on into Melanesia.

The Austronesian peoples, or more accurately Austronesian-speaking peoples, are a large group of various peoples in Southeast Asia, Taiwan, Oceania and Madagascar that speak the Austronesian languages. The nations and territories predominantly populated by Austronesian-speaking peoples are known collectively as Austronesia.

The broad consensus on Austronesian origins is the “two-layer model” where an original Paleolithic indigenous population in Island Southeast Asia were assimilated to varying degrees by incoming migrations of Neolithic Austronesian-speaking peoples from Taiwan and southern China from around 4,000 BP.

The broad consensus on the Urheimat (homeland) of Austronesian languages as well as the Neolithic early Austronesian peoples is accepted to be Taiwan, as well as the Penghu Islands. They are believed to have descended from ancestral populations in coastal mainland southern China, which are generally referred to as the “pre‑Austronesians”.

The identity of the Neolithic pre-Austronesian cultures in China is contentious. Tracing Austronesian prehistory in mainland China and Taiwan has been difficult due to obliteration of most traces of Austronesian culture by the recent southward expansion of the Han Chinese into southern China since at least the terminal Neolithic (4500 to 4000 BP), the southward expansion of the Han dynasty (2nd century BCE), and the recent Qing dynasty annexation of Taiwan (1683 CE).

Nevertheless, based on linguistic, archaeological, and genetic evidence, Austronesians are most strongly associated with the early farming cultures of the Yangtze River basin that domesticated rice from around 13,500 to 8,200 BP.

They display typical Austronesian technological hallmarks, including tooth removal, teeth blackening, jade carving, tattooing, stilt houses, advanced boat-building, aquaculture, wetland agriculture, and the domestication of dogs, pigs, and chickens. These include the Kuahuqiao, Hemudu, Majiabang, Songze, Liangzhu, and Dapenkeng cultures which occupied the coastal regions between the Yangtze River delta to the Min River delta.

The Hemudu culture (5500 BC to 3300 BC) was a Neolithic culture that flourished just south of the Hangzhou Bay in Jiangnan in modern Yuyao, Zhejiang, China. Hemudu are said to have differed physically from inhabitants of the Yellow River sites to the north. The culture may be divided into an early and late phases, before and after 4000 BC respectively.

Scholars view the Hemudu Culture as a source of the pre-Austronesian cultures. Two major floods caused the nearby Yaojiang River to change its course and inundated the soil with salt, forcing the people of Hemudu to abandon its settlements. The Hemudu people lived in long, stilt houses. Communal longhouses were also common in Hemudu sites, much like the ones found in modern-day Borneo.

The Liangzhu culture (3400–2250 BC) was the last Neolithic jade culture in the Yangtze River Delta of China. The culture was highly stratified, as jade, silk, ivory and lacquer artifacts were found exclusively in elite burials, while pottery was more commonly found in the burial plots of poorer individuals.

This division of class indicates that the Liangzhu period was an early state, symbolized by the clear distinction drawn between social classes in funeral structures. A pan-regional urban center had emerged at the Liangzhu city-site and elite groups from this site presided over the local centers.

The Liangzhu culture was extremely influential and its sphere of influence reached as far north as Shanxi and as far south as Guangdong. The type site at Liangzhu was discovered in Yuhang County, Zhejiang and initially excavated by Shi Xingeng in 1936.

A 2007 analysis of the DNA recovered from human remains shows high frequencies of Haplogroup O1 in Liangzhu culture linking this culture to modern Austronesian and Tai-Kadai populations. It is believed that the Liangzhu culture or other associated subtraditions are the ancestral homeland of Austronesian speakers.

The Liangzhu culture existed in coastal areas around the mouth of the Yangtze. Haplogroup O1 was absent in other archeological sites inland. The authors of the study suggest that this may be evidence of two different human migration routes during the peopling of Eastern Asia, one coastal and the other inland, with little genetic flow between them.

The Dapenkeng culture (Chinese: 大坌坑文化) was an early Neolithic culture that appeared in northern Taiwan between 4000 and 3000 BC and quickly spread around the coast of the island, as well as the Penghu islands to the west. Most scholars believe this culture was brought across the Taiwan Strait by the ancestors of today’s Taiwanese aborigines, speaking early Austronesian languages. No ancestral culture on the mainland has been identified, but a number of shared features suggest ongoing contacts.

For hundreds of years, surfing was a central part of ancient Polynesian culture. The term surfing refers to the act of riding a wave with a board, regardless of the stance used. There are several types of boards. The native peoples of the Pacific, for instance, surfed waves on alaia, paipo, and other such craft, and did so on their belly and knees.

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