Story: Pacific migrations

Double-hulled voyaging canoes, Gisborne, 2000

Double-hulled voyaging canoes, Gisborne, 2000

Throughout Polynesia variations are found on the design for the doubled-hulled ocean-going canoe. These two vessels, Te Au-o-Tonga (left) and Te Aurere, are replicas built on traditional lines. Using canoes, skilled navigators made possible the settlement of the islands in the world’s largest ocean. It seems that those who inhabited new islands were not willing to sit and watch the crops grow – the horizon beckoned, and many canoes set off in search of further islands. And why not? After all, each time they left an island these colonisers found another. They continued in this way until there were no new islands left to discover. It is very likely that exploring canoes returned, and that voyages of discovery were followed up with voyages of colonisation.

Using this item

New Zealand Herald
Photograph by Nicola Topping

Permission of the New Zealand Herald must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Geoff Irwin, 'Pacific migrations - From West to East Polynesia', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 8 August 2022)

Story by Geoff Irwin, published 8 Feb 2005, reviewed & revised 8 Feb 2017