15 Jan 2013

New theory about East Polynesia settlement

2:45 pm on 15 January 2013

A professor of Hawaiian Language says linguistics evidence reveals East Polynesians did not arrive directly from Samoa as earlier presumed.

Dr William Wilson says a common ancestor has caused languages in the Cook Islands, Easter Island, Marquesas and Tahiti to be similar.

Dr Wilson has studied languages outside that area to discover who the ancestors were.

He says the first settlers to East Polynesia had travelled from outlier islands off Solomon Islands.

"Well they originally came from Samoa and those sorts of places near Samoa. But instead of coming directly east from Samoa into the Cook Islands, and Tahiti... the migration went back the other direction, settled on these small islands, people lived on those small islands for a while and then they moved from those small islands into Eastern Polynesia."

Dr William Wilson says he has found more than 50 words from Eastern Polynesia and the outlier islands that share similarities.