The Maori may have been the first to discover Antarctica, with connections to the frozen continent and surrounding oceans dating back to the 7th century, the researchers say.
A new article from the University of Otago combines literature and oral histories, and concludes that the Maori, the indigenous people of Aotearoa New Zealand, were probably the first to explore the surrounding waters of Antarctica and possibly the continent in the distance.
They write that Maori and Polynesian journeys to the Deep South have occurred for a long time, perhaps as early as the 7th century, and are recorded in a variety of oral traditions.
According to the oral histories of the Maori Ngāti Rārua and Te Āti Awa tribal groups, the first human being to travel to Antarctica was the Polynesian explorer Hui Te Rangiora.
The researchers write that “Polynesian narratives of inter-island travel include the voyage to Antarctic waters by Hui Te Rangiora … and his crew on the ship Te Ivi or Atea, probably in the early 7th century.” According to oral tradition, they called that ocean Te tai-uka-a-pia, the frozen ocean, with “pia” in reference to arrowroot, which when scraped looks like snow.
Polynesian oral history records from 1899 describe the journey there, recalling “the monstrous seas; the female that inhabits those mountainous waves, whose braids flutter in the water and on the surface of the sea, the frozen sea of pia, with the deceptive sea animal that dives to great depths – a misty, misty and dark place unseen for the Sun.
“Other things are like rocks, whose peaks pierce the heavens, are completely bare and without vegetation.” SP Smith, who recorded the oral histories, says the stories can describe Southern Ocean bull algae, marine mammals, and icebergs.
Later, researchers say, the Maori sailor Te Atu is often described as the first Maori, as well as the first New Zealander, to see the coast of Antarctica in 1840. His trip to Vincennes mapped miles of the Antarctic coastline. as part of the United States. Exploring the expedition.
Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev are often credited with being the first explorers to discover the continent of Antarctica. In 1820, they stumbled upon the Fimbul ice shelf.
Project director Dr. Priscilla Wehi said in a statement that “We found a connection to Antarctica and its waters have been going on since the earliest traditional voyages.” He said that “Taking into account the responsibilities of underrepresented groups, and in particular the Maori … is important for current and future Antarctic research programs.”
The researchers also conducted a review of current Maori involvement and travel to Antarctica, noting that “the narratives of underrepresented groups and their connection to Antarctica remain poorly documented and recognized.”
Paper, ‘A brief analysis of Maori journeys to Antarctica‘was published in the Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism