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The end result, which scholars have tried to unravel, is a vast mosaic of criss-crossing lines of influence and communication, some old and some new, which together have led to current distributions of peoples and items of cultural inventory.As the following chapters will show, to solve the problem of Polynesian origins, some account needs to be taken of them all.The first is that the peoples spoken of were maritime members of the Austronesian language family, dependent for all but local communication upon sea-going canoes.As a result they were constrained by barriers such as sea gaps, and cultural complexes of a regional nature emerged in consequence.The current orthodoxy, while standing the test of time in most respects, is now in need of adjustment; musical evidence has not so far been taken into account; and some past ideas are worth re-visiting.The present book takes an historical view of the issues, summarising and evaluating theories of Polynesian origin from the eighteenth century onwards, providing some account of methodologies used by scholarly disciplines which have been brought to bear on the subject, and data so gained, including evidence from music and dance, which forms the core of the book. European discovery of the Pacific did not begin until at least half a millennium after Polynesians had conquered the last frontier of this vast ocean expanse by reaching New Zealand. But it soon became apparent to me that it could make a significant contribution on issues that had occupied Pacific scholars for at least a hundred years, including the vexed question of "The Coming of the Maori" as articulated at this time by the ethnologist Sir Peter Buck (Te Rangi Hiroa), and further back still the origins of the peoples of Polynesia, whose remarkable history was equally the subject of debate.
The book takes an historical view of theories of origin, and provides some account of methodologies used by scholarly disciplines which have been brought to bear on the subject, including evidence from music and dance, which forms the core of the book.
An alternative view that champions Micronesia as a primary area of origin for Polynesians has been in limbo as a result of the prevailing theory, but is reappraised in the present book and found once again to be in contention.
For more than twenty years the standard view among anthropologists has been that Polynesians evolved from a group of settlers known as Lapita people whose characteristically dentate-stamped pottery has been found on numerous mostly Melanesian sites, and who entered Fiji more than 3000 years ago from a starting point in the Bismarck Archipelago.
The reality is that only one or two canoes at most would have gone on voyages of exploration or discovery at any one time, and generations could elapse before another might follow.
Finally one must consider the most likely result when such a canoe reached landfall.
The literature on Polynesian origins and information bearing upon it is so vast it may well be asked why burden the reader with yet another book about it, and, from the author's point of view, why bother to write one?