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Maori may have discovered Antarctica 1,300 years before Westerners, study says

June 11, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 47.9%. 1 min read.

For decades, historians and scientists believed Antarctica was discovered by Europeans and Americans. But according to a new study, it may have been New Zealand's indigenous Maori people who first laid eyes on the icy landscape.

Maori voyages to the southernmost continent may have dated as far back as the 7th century -- long before Europeans made their way there in the early 19th century, according to research published this week in the Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

But Polynesian navigators' excursions into the Antarctic waters date further back to around 1,320 years ago -- a rich history that has been overshadowed by that of European exploration, the study said.

"We find Polynesian narratives of voyaging between the islands include voyaging into Antarctic waters by Hui Te Rangiora and his crew on the vessel Te Ivi O Atea, likely in the early 7th century," said lead researcher and conservation biologist Priscilla Wehi.

"When you put it together, it's really clear, there's a very long history of connection to Antarctica," Wehi said.

The study challenges commonly held preconceptions surrounding Maori knowledge about Antarctica, both past and present, said co-author Billy van Uitregt.

"There are lots of Maori working in Antarctica as researchers, participating in New Zealand fishing vessels in the Southern Ocean," he said.

by summa-bot

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