Story: Pacific migrations

Torres Strait islanders on a bamboo raft, 1906

Torres Strait islanders on a bamboo raft, 1906

To get from mainland Asia to Near Oceania at least 10 water crossings of 10–100 kilometres were required. Somehow people crossed these stretches of water, but no remnants of their vessels have been found. In the period 50,000–25,000 BCE knives had been invented but adzes, which could be used to hollow out logs to make canoes, had not. Although it is speculation, it seems likely that the giant bamboo that grows in the region was lashed together to form rafts. Whatever form these early vessels took, they were seaworthy enough to enable people to island-hop as far east as the Solomon Islands in Near Oceania.

Using this item

Auckland War Memorial Museum Tamaki Paenga Hira
Reference: Neg no. 6617. Call no. GN 671.T6

Permission of the Auckland War Memorial Museum Tamaki Paenga Hira 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 - Ancient voyaging in Near Oceania', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/photograph/1764/torres-strait-islanders-on-a-bamboo-raft-1906 (accessed 23 October 2021)

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