Quest for Origins

The Quest for Origins:
Who First Discovered and Settled the Pacific Islands

By K. R. Howe

Questions and Terms


  • What is the Antipodean Question?

Chapter I:
Contexts of Inquiry

  • What is knowledge-based cultural learning?
  • What is competency-based, experimental learning?
  • Why are learning and research never truly neutral or value-free?
  • Post-modernism
  • Post-colonialism
  • What is the concept of “prehistory: and how did it develop?
  • What are the ways that the Pacific region is perceived.

Chapter 2:
Some ‘Mainstream Ideas,’ 1760-1860

  • What is the mainstream view of the origins of the Polynesians?
  • How did the Cook voyages change the way Europeans looked at the Pacific and its peoples?
  • What did missionaries add to the theory of how and when the Pacific islands were discovered and settled?

Chapter 3:
Some ‘Mainstream Ideas,’ 1860-1940

  • What did comparative science and evolutionism add to the theories of Polynesian origins and settlement?
  • William Jones
  • Max Müller
  • Edward Tregear
  • Diffusionism
  • Biological determism
  • Anthropological functionalism
  • Elliott Smith

Chapter 4:
Current Ideas: When and Where?

  • What were the three bases for the modification of ideas about Pacific settlement that arose during the 1960s and 1970s?
  • Near Oceania
  • Remote Oceania
  • What type of evidence is associated with the Artefact/Activity Trails?
  • What type of evidence is associated with the Biological Trails?
  • What type of evidence is associated with the Linguistic Trails?
  • How well do the three trails support each others’ conclusions?

Chapter 5:
Current Ideas: How?

  • What was Andrew Sharp’s view of ancient Polynesian voyaging?
  • What did David Lewis add to our knowledge of ancient Polynesian navigational techniques?
  • Describe Polynesian naval technology for high seas voyaging?
  • Drift voyage
  • Eric de Bisschop
  • Thor Heyerdahl

Chapter 6:
Alternative Ideas

  • Describe the American theory of Polynesian origins and who was advocating it.
  • What are the problems with Thor Heyerdahl’s theory?
  • Describe the theory of Spanish connections to the Polynesians?
  • What are the various Lost Continent theories of Polynesian origins?
  • Terra Australis
  • Diluvialism

Chapter 7:
‘New’ Learning or Old Learning?

  • What is the ‘new’ diffusionism?
  • What is the New Age approach to Polynesian origins?
  • What is the ‘new’ geology as it relates to Polynesian origins?
  • Barry Fell
  • David Hatcher Childress
  • James Churchward
  • What are the three reasons for confronting the “New” learning?

Chapter 8:
Maori Origins: Creating New Zealand Prehistory

  • What are the various theories concerning the origins of the Maori on New Zealand and how are they related to modern New Zealand society?