Saturday, October 4, 2014

Kiwi waka

A major storm in New Zealand in 2012 revealed something buried in a sand dune on South Island near the Anaweka estuary. That something was a 19.95' (6 m) long section of the hull of a native canoe known as a waka that would have been at least 45.9' (14 m) long and carved from a single timber. Polynesian seafarers used such vessels to colonize islands as far away as Samoa and Hawaii, centuries before Captain Cook explored the South Pacific. Radiocarbon dating revealed that the canoe was last caulked about A.D. 1400. And carved on the hull (IMAGE ABOVE) was a sea turtle, a symbol rarely found in New Zealand's native Maori culture, but which was used widely throughout Polynesia. See turtles were respected for their ability to navigate the open ocean on long voyages and the boat on which this one is emblazoned will provide archaeologists with evidence of how early Polynesians did the same. Lead author Dilys Amanda Johns of the University of Auckland describes, It was one of those situations where it sort of took your breath away. I’d never seen anything like it.”

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