Off-wind or down-wind sailing between central East Polynesia and New Zealand was unusually possible during this period, when intensification and poleward expansion of the Pacific subtropical anticyclone strengthened tradewinds toward New Zealand.
The paleo-wind patterns revealed that New Zealand was potentially colonised by voyaging from the Tonga/Fiji Islands, the Southern Cook Islands, and the Austral Islands further east. Similarly, the wind patterns revealed that Easter Island might have been colonised from both Central East Polynesia and from Chile.
“This research fits in the Polynesian folklore, which refers to multiple migrations – our mapping of the climate conditions at that time they were travelling confirms the possibility,” said Professor Goodwin.
It also indicates that Polynesian sailing-canoes did not need a capability to sail to windward, and that all passages could have been made downwind over the immense ocean tracts.
“These are fantastic new insights into prehistoric maritime migration, and opens doors for marine climatologists to work with anthropologists and archaeologists, to piece together the evolution of maritime societies.”
Provided by Macquarie University
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