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Their story has been the subject of numerous books and articles, and theories about where they came from have proliferated since the first encounters with Polynesians by European navigators in the eighteenth century.
More impressive still is an even greater time depth of at least three thousand years since pre-Polynesians are believed to have ventured out of SE Asia to begin their journeys into what is now known as Remote Oceania.
When the present writer began field work on traditional Maori music in 1958, the diverse fields of Music and Anthropology were only just beginning to converge.
The book takes an historical view of theories of origin, and provides some account of methodologies used by scholarly disciplines which have been brought to bear on the subject, including evidence from music and dance, which forms the core of the book.
The reality is that only one or two canoes at most would have gone on voyages of exploration or discovery at any one time, and generations could elapse before another might follow.
Finally one must consider the most likely result when such a canoe reached landfall.
Second to be considered is exactly what happened when people ventured beyond the boundaries of their own local regions.
It is inaccurate to label these excursions as migrations except cumulatively over a period of time.
Some idea of ensuing interactions can be gained from the reception given to European explorers when first contact was made with Polynesians. European discovery of the Pacific did not begin until at least half a millennium after Polynesians had conquered the last frontier of this vast ocean expanse by reaching New Zealand. But it soon became apparent to me that it could make a significant contribution on issues that had occupied Pacific scholars for at least a hundred years, including the vexed question of "The Coming of the Maori" as articulated at this time by the ethnologist Sir Peter Buck (Te Rangi Hiroa), and further back still the origins of the peoples of Polynesia, whose remarkable history was equally the subject of debate. The literature on Polynesian origins and information bearing upon it is so vast it may well be asked why burden the reader with yet another book about it, and, from the author's point of view, why bother to write one? According to this view, Polynesians evolved from a group of pre-Polynesian settlers known as Lapita people whose characteristically dentate stamped pottery has been found in numerous archaeological sites stretching from the Bismarck Archipelago on the eastern fringe of Papua New Guinea south-eastwards through Island Melanesia to Fiji, and from there to nearby Tonga and Samoa in Western Polynesia.