First Polynesians

Disastrous History: A Disasters of History Podcast


In small wooden canoes and with just the stars for navigation, how did the first Polynesians conquer the largest ocean on earth? For centuries this has perplexed scholars and anthropologists. The Polynesian Triangle is drawn by connecting the points of Hawaii, New Zealand, and Easter Island and encompasses countries like Samoa, Tonga and Tahiti with each island connected to the others by common traditions of sea-faring, celestial navigation and mythology, all passed down the generations through stories and song.


To unravel the mystery, Dan is joined by Opetaia Foa’i, the award-winning composer and singer who wrote the Polynesian music in Moana and whose band Te Vaka had sung the stories of their ancestors on some of the world’s biggest stages for years. They’re also joined by Christina Thompson, author of ‘Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia’ whose encyclopaedic knowledge on this fascinating subject fills in all the blanks. Together Dan, Opetaia and Christina weave music and history in this episode to unravel Polynesia’s past.


Music courtesy of Spirit of Play Productions, with thanks to Julie Foa’i.


Produced by Mariana Des Forges and edited by Dougal Patmore.


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