The Canoe Is the People
Indigenous Navigation in the Pacific
Many stories tell about the beginning of places and people. Like the archaeological account, many stories talk about flooding or lost lands… or islands being fished up from the sea. Others talk about canoe voyages from faraway places. Still others tell about people using spiritual powers to create new lands.
In Aotearoa GLOSSARY Aotearoa - New Zealand (New Zealand) alone, a range of stories is told. As in many Polynesian islands, there is the story of the boy Maui. From his canoe (Te Waka a Maui, the South Island), Maui fished up the North Island (Te Ika a Maui). There is the story of the navigator Kupe, who landed on the northwest shores. There are the stories of the canoes that navigated here from the island homeland of Hawaiki. And there’s the story of Paikea, who arrived on the east coast of the North Island on the back of a whale.
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Upon a stone altar
Langar Island in Pohnpei lagoon is like the main island. It sits on volcanic rock and has good soil and thick forests. A reef surrounds it. But once, Langar was completely flat.
Long ago, there was a huge rainfall, and Pohnpei was nearly washed away. The flood waters took trees, rocks, and houses into the sea. A woman from Langar called Li en Lan saw this. She climbed onto a large rock. As things from Pohnpei washed by her, she grabbed them and piled them on Langar. When the flood was over, she saw that she had created a lovely high islet that looked like Pohnpei.