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AFP
June 15, 2021

‘Pacific islanders likely found Antarctica first’

AFP
June 15, 2021

Wellington: Polynesian seafarers likely reached Antarctica hundreds of years before the Western explorers usually credited with discovering the frozen continent, a new study has concluded.

New Zealand researchers scoured so-called "grey literature" -- including oral records, historic indigenous artworks and non-academic sources -- looking for links between Maori people and Antarctica.

"When you put it together, it’s really clear, there’s a very long history of connection to Antarctica," said project leader Priscilla Wehi from New Zealand’s government research institute Manaaki Whenua.

"We found connection to Antarctica and its waters (has) been occurring since the earliest traditional voyaging, and later through participation in European-led voyaging and exploration, contemporary scientific research, fishing, and more, for centuries." Polynesian seafarers are widely regarded as some of history’s greatest sailors, navigating vast distances between Pacific islands with pin-point precision on their double-hulled waka, or canoes. The research, published last week in the Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, found they reached Antarctica long before the first Westerners in the 1820s. The researchers believe the first voyage to Antarctica waters even pre-dates Maori arrival in New Zealand in the 14th century.