October 05, 2014
Waka fragment new window on past
A 6-metre fragment of a 600-year old waka is being hailed as opening a new chapter in understanding maritime archaeology in Aotearoa New Zealand.
University of Auckland archaeologist Dilys Johns says the board found in 2012 near the Anaweka River on the northwest coast of the South Island was probably part of an ocean-going double-hulled waka up to 20 metres long.
While it is made of New Zealand matai, a sea turtle carved on the outside owes more to Polynesian than Maori traditions.
Dr Johns says for 200 years there has been debate about the sorts of canoes that brought the ancestors of Maori to Aotearoa.
Dilys Johns says her paper on the Aneweka canoe find can be read alongside a new paper that analyses historic climate data and argues that a change in prevailing wind patterns for a half century on either side of 1200 means waka would have been able to voyage back and forth between East Polynesian and Aotearoa even if they could not sail into the wind.
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