The largest geographic region in the Pacific, Polynesia stretches all the way from New Zealand east to the Moai of Rapa Nui and north to the Hawaiian Islands. Including some of the last places on Earth to be settled, Polynesia is made up of thousands of volcanic islands and low lying atolls and lagoons; many of which face imminent flooding and destruction due to climate change’s rising sea levels.
Immortalized by the writings and adventures of Jack London, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Herman Melville, Polynesia has always held a sense of intrigue and discovery heralding back to the ancient seafarers of the Southeast Asia; the first to people the islands. These skilled wayfinders drew direction from- and navigated via reading the sun and the stars, swells and the ocean currents, and the winds, clouds, and migrating birds in order to seek out and discovery new lands.
Rousseau’s and 18th century Romantic’s ridiculous notion of the noble savage has no place is Polynesia’s past that was controlled by a powerful ruling class and chiefs and included a pantheon of feared gods. Now predominantly democratic, early Polynesia was governed via an understanding of mana -spiritual power that resided mostly with chiefs and gods- and tapu –a system of social rules and the derivation of the English word “taboo”.
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