The REAL “Moana” Story: How the Polynesians Explored, Discovered, and Settled the Eastern Pacific

March 27, 2018 @ 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Lyman Museum
276 Haili St
Hilo, HI 96720

Aerial view of Mangareva (Gambier Islands), French Polynesia. Photo courtesy FRED (French language Wikipedia).

Matinée presentation:

The recent Hollywood animated blockbuster, “Moana,” exposed new audiences to the great sailing and wayfinding traditions of the Polynesians, while Hōkūle‘a’s circumnavigation of the globe has dispelled any doubts about the sailing abilities of Polynesian voyaging canoes.  But the deeper, real story of “Moana” has gradually been emerging from the painstaking work of archaeology.  Over the past two decades, archaeologists have unearthed significant new finds that shed light on the remarkable expansion of the Polynesians out of their homeland in the Tonga—Samoa region.  Beginning around A.D. 900—1000, Polynesian ancestors rapidly discovered and settled every archipelago and island in the central and eastern Pacific, from Hawai‘i, to Aotearoa (New Zealand), to Rapa Nui (Easter Island).  And there is little doubt that they also reached the shores of the Americas, returning with the sweet potato which they introduced to the islands. 

Renowned Pacific archaeologist and author Dr. Patrick Kirch returns to the Lyman Museum to present these new findings, such as the excavation of new sites dating to the early period of Polynesian expansion; the exceptional discovery of part of a voyaging canoe hull in New Zealand; advances in high-precision radiocarbon dating that allow archaeologists to pin down settlement dates for all the major islands; and geochemical sourcing of stone tools that demonstrates noteworthy interisland and interarchipelago voyaging.  The real story of “Moana” is the story of the “Vikings of the sunrise,” the greatest navigators of the pre-modern world.  Hear it told and see it illustrated on either of two occasions:  Monday evening, March 26, or a “matinée” on the following afternoon, March 27.  Following both programs, copies of Dr. Kirch’s recent publication, On the Road of the Winds: An Archaeological History of the Pacific Islands before European Contact, will be available for sale, and he will be pleased to inscribe them.

Admission to these wonderful programs is free to Museum members, and $3.00 for nonmembers.  Please support the Museum by becoming a member, and enjoy all Saigo Series programs, all year round, at no charge!  Seating is limited; first come, first seated.  ON MONDAY EVENINGS ONLY, additional parking is available next door at Hilo Union School, Kapiolani St. entrance; park, then walk through our green gate in the rock wall

On Monday evenings, doors open at 6:30PM.  E komo mai!