The mysterious connection between Maori and the inhabitants of remote Polynesian islands thousands of kilometres west of Aoteaora is explored in THE LOST WAKA screening for the first time in Maori Television’s New Zealand Documentary slot, Pakipumeka Aotearoa, on Wednesday October 31 at 8.30 PM.
The hour-long film follows former Maori Language Commissioner, Professor Patu Hohepa, and wife Erena as they travel to Rennell (Mu Ngiki) and Bellona (Mu Nggava) in search of the ‘lost waka’ – the link in the geneology, mythology and lapita design between Maori and the people of these islands.
According to producer Ingrid Leary from Pasifika Pictures, the islanders greet others with hongi, practice noa and tapu, and speak a language so similar to Maori that they can comfortably converse with the indigenous people of New Zealand.
Decades ago, a Danish researcher was the only outsider to study the language and culture and he found that the languages of Rennell and Bellona – although distinct – were both ethnographically just one degree different from Maori.
So exactly what is the relationship of the people of these two islands to the indigenous people of Aotearoa? Do they share a common ancestor? What is their whakapapa and where is the link to New Zealand Maori?
Professor Hohepa first came into contact with the languages of Rennell and Bellona through Samuel Elbert some 40 years ago while teaching in Hawaii and researching the 37 Polynesian languages.
THE LOST WAKA is his search for the link between New Zealand Maori and the two iwi which live in the remote islands off the Solomon Islands. Leary says no-one had made this particular journey before which was a “pioneering experience, academically but also spiritually”.
“The tipuna (ancestors) guide him and the crew throughout the journey to discover significant common ancestors, and to document whakapapa, common history and mythology from the days of the great Pacific migrations.
“For the first time ever, the blood connection is traced. But more significant is the instant, immediate and undisputable aroha (love) and spiritual connection between the Maori crew and the people of these two remote islands.
“This important documentary is a historical landmark. It is a beginning, not an end, and the journey forward for all concerned will mean going back even further to another lost waka from the very distant past.”
THE LOST WAKA screens in Maori Television’s New Zealand Documentary slot, Pakipumeka Aotearoa, on Wednesday October 31 at 8.30 PM.