Author Topic: The Maori may have discovered Antarctica  (Read 106 times)

Duncan Head

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The Maori may have discovered Antarctica
« on: June 11, 2021, 09:50:48 AM »
Or at least the ocean around it -
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jun/11/new-zealands-maori-may-have-been-first-to-discover-antarctica-study-suggests

Original paper at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03036758.2021.1917633

Unfortunately this doesn't give early Maori armies any new historical opponents (unless the Elder Things count).
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Andreas Johansson

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Re: The Maori may have discovered Antarctica
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2021, 11:07:09 AM »
Seventh century? That's quite a while before the usual thirteenth century date for the colonization of New Zealand itself.
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Holly

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Re: The Maori may have discovered Antarctica
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2021, 11:59:58 AM »

Unfortunately this doesn't give early Maori armies any new historical opponents (unless the Elder Things count).

 ;D
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Duncan Head

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Re: The Maori may have discovered Antarctica
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2021, 12:16:31 PM »
Hui Te Rangiora's story is preserved in Maori lore, but he is said to have come from Rarotonga, not from New Zealand; so if factual it would be a remembered pre-settlement account.
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aligern

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Re: The Maori may have discovered Antarctica
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2021, 04:52:09 PM »
I found the plea for different standards of evidence for ‘under represented groups’ interesting.  We might ask Holly what is the evidence of the accuracy of oral history as t is very relevant to early Welsh stuff. At tge last conference Graham Evans said some interesting things about elements of Welsh bardic song/poems that were likely to be correct because they directly related to the involvement of leading lights in the audience.  Would it be possible to show tgat descriptions of the Southern Ocean such as the long kelp were unique to situations in the  Antarctic, or are tgey commonplace.  Does being under represented constitute a powerful case for acceptance of truth, so step forward St Brendan and king Arthur?

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Erpingham

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Re: The Maori may have discovered Antarctica
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2021, 05:12:55 PM »
A slightly obvious point is that Welsh bardic poetry doesn't represent a continuous oral tradition until today.  Someone wrote it down a few hundred years after it was composed.  Likewise poems like Beowulf.  So, while these do appear to align with the date of the Maori stories, there is a longer time of purely oral transmission.  Welsh bardic material shows layering of versions (I think its Koch who demonstrates several linguistic strata in Y Gododdin).  So, one might want to show similar caution about having a "pure" historic tale in another tradition.  Especially as oral traditions were not necessarily about recording historical events in what we would recognise as a chronological way but rather with other significances to the fore.  That said, it certainly seemed plausible to me that the story embedded tales of exploration southward, with observations of whales and icebergs, even if we are uncertain about dates and explorers.
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Andreas Johansson

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Re: The Maori may have discovered Antarctica
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2021, 06:34:20 PM »
Hui Te Rangiora's story is preserved in Maori lore, but he is said to have come from Rarotonga, not from New Zealand; so if factual it would be a remembered pre-settlement account.
Same question - Rarotonga isn’t supposed to have been settled yet in the seventh century either.

What little I know of Polynesian voyaging gives me no reason to doubt that someone might have reached Antarctic waters and returned to tell the tale, or that the memory thereof may have been transmitted orally into colonial times, but the apparently impossible dates surely raises a big question mark at at least that aspect of oral history.

(How did the Maori date stuff anyway? Did they have some sort of year-numbering system, or is the date arrived at by guesstimating the average generation length or something?)
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aligern

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Re: The Maori may have discovered Antarctica
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2021, 10:20:17 PM »
Being crystallised by being written down in the ninth century is an advantage to the possible accuracy of the Welsh epics. The concern about the  Maori songs is tgat
a) Details might be added in the late nineteenth century when Maori travelled to Antarctica with European expeditions.
b) How far North  is the Northern boundary to which Icebergs come?  Its considerably less powerful evidence if they reach South island New Zealand.
c) How does the sailing system of the Maori or other South Sea islanders fit with such voyages. I know tgey supposedly followed whales, but tgey are supposed to have used currents and prevailing winds. Do these allow for a trip to the Antarctic and back. .
Its not implausible that South Sea Islanders made such a voyage, the sea journeys that they made that did end in colonisations are proof enough of that. However, this claim needs a bit more proof, because St. Brendan could have made it.
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Dangun

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Re: The Maori may have discovered Antarctica
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2021, 01:40:13 AM »
I found the plea for different standards of evidence for ‘under represented groups’ interesting.

Interesting is one word for it. Garbage is another.  :)

Doesn't this argument hinge on the etymology of Tai-uka-a-pia ("sea foaming like arrowroot")?
The academic authority cited by the author is from 1899... not a good sign.

Tenuous.

And then, "likely in the seventh century." Two papers are footnoted, but I am bracing myself for disappointment.

Prufrock

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Re: The Maori may have discovered Antarctica
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2021, 06:00:42 AM »
I found the plea for different standards of evidence for ‘under represented groups’ interesting.

Interesting is one word for it. Garbage is another.  :)

Doesn't this argument hinge on the etymology of Tai-uka-a-pia ("sea foaming like arrowroot")?
The academic authority cited by the author is from 1899... not a good sign.

Tenuous.

And then, "likely in the seventh century." Two papers are footnoted, but I am bracing myself for disappointment.

New Zealand is going through a socio-political adjustment at present and the pre-colonial period is being recast as a sort of 'before the fall' utopia. This article is a product of that adjustment (which is not to say that its claims may not be correct).
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Mark G

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Re: The Maori may have discovered Antarctica
« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2021, 07:14:39 AM »
It is?

That would be news to me and mine. 

And the pre contact paper I did was pretty clear such notions would not get much hearing from the lecturers, who were very keen on validating oral traditions academically too.

Otago is a proper institution too.  I shall enquire from my family on staff there.
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