Heritage Talk - NZ Place Names Shared with Eastern Polynesia

Whats On

Ross Ramsay will present a talk exploring the shared placed names between Mehetia Island in the Society Islands and New Zealand. This and the discovery of shaped scoria blocks currently regarded as derived from Mehetia in South Island archaeological sites, indicate Mehetia as a likely departure point for some Polynesian voyagers to New Zealand.

Shared place names (toponyms) between two distant, but related societies, point to a common ancestry. A feature of Aotearoa New Zealand is the number of place names common with the ancestral Māori homeland in the Hawaiki zone.

Mehetia Island is linked to New Zealand by means of five lines of evidence:
• the island and its peak, Hi'ura'i which was sacred to early Tahitians
• Tahitian oral traditions that identify that island as a voyaging departure point for New Zealand
• the occurrence within early New Zealand archaeological sites of shaped scoria blocks which may have originated from this island
• the significant number of related place names found in New Zealand
• the extensive occurrence of the name Hikurangi/Hikuraki in New Zealand.

Interestingly, this newly found potential importance of Mehetia as a voyaging point for early Polynesian navigators appears to be poorly reflected in current Māori oral traditions.

The picture above shows Maunga Hikurangi, Tairawhiti, New Zealand with an inset of Mehetia Island in the Society Islands.

Free entry.
No booking is required. Seating is strictly limited on a first-come, first-served basis.

This event is part of Puanga Matariki Festival 2023 Whangārei.

Please visit our website for more information.

How to Find Us

Cafler Suite, Whangarei

Event Dates

Wednesday 28 June 2023