29 Dec 2010

New study revises Polynesia settlement timeline

6:53 am on 29 December 2010

A new study has overturned previous findings on when East Polynesia, and subsequently New Zealand, Rapa Nui and Hawaii were colonised.

The findings, published in the American journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, says previous studies used radio carbon dated materials that carried a high level of error.

The latest study indicates the region was settled in two distinct phases hundreds of years later than previously thought.

A Professor of History at the Auckland University of Technology, Paul Moon, says the new material actually makes more sense of the pattern of migration:

"What this study shows is that the period of migration has been dramatically reduced therefore it makes sense that people arrive in an island and while they still have that knowledge of migration fresh in ther memories they then migrate to other areas."

The researchers analysed more than 1400 radiocarbon dates from 47 Pacific islands in the study.