Chapter 11.00: Letters from New Zealand

Introduction to Bacon & the Art of Living

The story of bacon is set in the late 1800s and early 1900s when most of the important developments in bacon took place. The plotline takes place in the 2000s with each character referring to a real person and actual events. The theme is a kind of “steampunk” where modern mannerisms, speech, clothes and practices are superimposed on a historical setting.  Modern people interact with old historical figures with all the historical and cultural bias that goes with this.


Letters from New Zealand

80316285_10220746113943620_6945087157014888448_n

The Calne experience came to an end, just as dramatically as it started. Upon our return from Dublin, Oscar was already waiting for us in Calne. We had an amazing time with John Harris, Mike Caswell, Anita Waite, and Susan Bodington. Minette and I decided to take Stu up on his invitation to visit New Zealand before we visit Dawie in America.

Lord Lansdowne on Saltpeter (3)

One afternoon, Mr Petty from Bowood called on us. Lord Landsdowne returned the previous day and invited Minette, Oscar and me to dinner. It was a grand affair and reminded me of the send-off that we received from Jeppe when we left Denmark. It was an honour meeting Lord Landsdowne. He struck me as a very intelligent man and a great sportsman! I could tell that his heart was in Canada! Of course, we discussed the saltpetre trade until deep in the night and as Viceroy of India, he knew quite a bit about the inner workings of the saltpetre trade.

I thought that where Denmark was my introduction to saltpetre and mild cured bacon, England was my schooling in salt, refrigeration, sugar, and mechanisation of every process on the bacon production floor. Pale dried bacon, arterial injection and the development of the English pig rounded an unforgettable time off in England. With our host that evening, the matter of saltpetre was back on the agenda!

Lord Landsdowne spend so much time in India that he acquired a unique birds-eye view of the world saltpetre trade. He told us that he knows that we have been well taken care of in England and that we received all the help we would need to plan our Bacon Processing plant in Cape Town. On his part, he has been informed that in Denmark we looked into the matter of the history of saltpetre and its use in meat curing and he was eager to have a discussion on the subject. I needed no persuasion. I rushed to my room to get my ever-present notebook and when I re-joined the dinner party, I prompted our host to continue.

“By far the largest natural known natural deposits of saltpetre to the Western world of the 1600s,” Lord Landsdowne started, “were found in India and the East Indian Companies of England and Holland plaid pivotal roles in facilitating its acquisition and transport. The massive nitrate fields of the Atacama desert and those of the Tarim Bason were still largely unknown. In 1300, 1400 and 1500 saltpetre had, however, become the interest of all governments in India and there was a huge development in local saltpetre production.”

“In Europe, references to natron emerged from the middle of the 1500s and were used by scholars who travelled to the East where they encountered both the substance and the terminology. Natron was originally the word that referred to saltpetre. Later, the word natron was changed and nitron was used.”

“At first, the saltpetre fields of Bihar were the focus of the Dutch East Indian Company (VOC) and the British East Indian Company (EIC). The VOC dominated the saltpetre trade at this point. In the 1750s, the English East Indian Company (EIC) was militarised. Events soon took place that allowed for the monopolization of the saltpetre trade.  In 1757 the British took over Subah of Bengal; a VOC expeditionary force was defeated in 1759 at Bedara; and finally, the British defeated the Mughals at Buxar in 1764 which secured the EIC’s control over Bihar. The British seized Bengal and took possession of 70% of the world’s saltpetre production during the latter part of the 1700s. (Frey, J. W.; 2009: 508 – 509)”

Lord Landsdowne had an interest in bacon curing due to a business that he recently invested in and the fact that Harris set their curing business up on his lands. He told us with great authority that “the application of nitrate in meat curing in Europe rose as it became more generally available. Later, massive deposits of sodium nitrite were discovered in the Atacama Desert of Chile and Peru and became known as Chilean Saltpeter. This was only a re-introduction of technology that existed since 2000 BCE and possibly much earlier.”

I was very excited about this statement. I recounted what I learned in Denmark. That “the pivotal area where saltpetre technology spread from across Asia, India and into Europe, is the Turpan-Hami Basin in the Taklimakan Desert in China. Here, nitrate deposits are so substantial, that an estimated 2.5 billion tons exist, comparable in scale to the Atacama Desert super-scale nitrate deposit in Chile. (Qin, Y., et al; 2012)  (The Tarim Mummies of China)  Its strategic location on the silk road, the evidence of advanced medical uses of nitrates from very early on and the ethnic link with Europe of people who lived here, all support this hypothesis.”

The main course was served and Lord Landsdowne continued. “Large saltpetre industries sprang to the South in India and to the South East in western China. In India, a large saltpetre industry developed in the north on the border with Nepal – in the state of Bihar, in particular, around the capital, Patna; in West Bengal and in Uttar Pradesh (Salkind, N. J. (edit), 2006: 519). Here, it was probably the monsoon rains which drench arid ground and as the soil dries during the dry season, capillary action pulls nitrate salts from deep underground to the surface where they are collected and refined. It is speculated that the source of the nitrates may be human and animal urine. Technology to refine saltpetre probably only arrived on Indian soil in the 1300s. Both the technology to process it and a robust trade in sal ammoniac in China, particularly in western China, predates the development of the Indian industry. It is therefore unlikely that India was the birthplace of curing. Saltpetre technology probably came from China, however, India, through the Dutch East Indian Company and later, the English East Indian Company became the major source of saltpetre in the west.”

“To the South East, in China, the largest production base of saltpetre was discovered dating back to a thousand years ago. Here, a network of caves was discovered (1) in the Laojun Mountains in Sichuan Province. Meat curing, interestingly enough, is also centred around the west and southern part of China. Probably a similar development to the Indian progression.”

“In China, in particular, a very strong tradition of meat curing developed. Saltpetre was possibly first introduced to the Chinese sometime before 2000 BCE. Its use in meat curing only became popular in Europe between 1600 and 1750 and it became universally used in these regions towards the end of 1700. Its usage most certainly coincided with its availability and price.” Lord Landsdowne told us that he has not compared price and availability in Europe with the findings on its use in meat curing which is based upon an examination of German and Austrian kook books by Lauder  (2), but he is confident that when he gets to it one day, the facts will prove the same.

“The Dutch and English arrived in India after 1600 with the first shipment of saltpetre from this region to Europe in 1618. Availability in Europe was, generally speaking, restricted to governments who, in this time, increasingly used it in warfare. (Frey, J. W.;  2009) This correlates well with the proposed time when it became generally available to the European population as the 1700s from Lauder.” I again interjected that I believe that a strong case is emerging that the link between Western Europe and the desert regions of Western China was the place where nitrate curing developed into an art. The exact place, I believe, in Western China is the Tarim depression.

For hundreds, if not thousands of years, very typical use of saltpetre in dry-cured meat would be in “a mixture of salt and saltpetre which would be liberally rubbed over the meat. As it migrates into the meat, water and blood are extracted and drained off.  The meat is usually laid skin down and all exposed meat is plastered with a mixture of salt and saltpetre. Pork bellies would cure in approximately 14 days.” (3) (Hui, Y. H.,  2012: 540) He laughed and said to me, “By this time, Eben, Oscar and Minette, I don’t have to tell you this. It is you who can give me an overview of the different curing systems that have been used through the ages!”

We talked and shared stories till deep into the night. The evening ended too soon and I wondered if I would ever see Bowood and Lord Landsdowne again. 

Oscar was impressed with the work we have done. He had ample time with the engineering manager of C & T Harris and took with him back to Cape Town a suitcase full of engineering drawings and factory plans. Whenever we had a spare moment, we would work on the plans for our own small factory in Cape Town and he made sure to discuss the layout and factory flow with the people who matter before he left. He enjoyed Lord Landsdowne and Bowood! 

Farewell to England

Within a week we all set sail from England to Cape Town from where Minette and I would take another steamer to New Zealand.  In Cape Town, we spend a week with Tristan and Lauren and my parents. We managed another week with Minette’s parents and of course saw her twin sister, Luani, her husband Fanie, and Liam and Luan, their adorable kids almost every day.  I spend an afternoon with Oscar and David de Villiers Graaff where we took him through our factory plans, careful not to reveal too much to him. On Wednesday evening, 31 May 1893 we celebrated at the newly constructed Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town. The big novelty was that it was the first hotel in Cape Town with running hot water. (4)

Photo of Mt Nelson, curtesy of Didi Basson. c 1900

New Zealand Awaits

On 1 June 1893, Minette and I greeted our families and set sail for the shores of New Zealand. What insane adventures await us and what great lessons to learn about bacon. What Minette did not know was that it would become more an “art of living” trip even though, at this point, I am not sure where our adventure with bacon ends and “the art of living” starts. It all blended for us into one!

80766415_10220746065702414_755479215448522752_n

Let me set the stage for what is to come. In New Zealand Minette and I would not only have some of our most memorable adventures, we would also get married.

The southern coast of Africa – a unique place where human ghosts as old as 80 000 years walk the beaches. Minette and I got engaged here, celebrating those most ancient inhabitants on top of Table Mountain.

We chose a land where human ghosts only appeared around 1000 years ago to get married. The south island of New Zealand. Until the arrival of Polynesian colonists, who became the Māori people, the land didn’t know the footsteps of humans.

Even after the first colonists arrived on the South Island of New Zealand, they only moved through the Cheviot Hills and on its beaches very occasionally as nomadic hunters 730 years ago. Their main seat of occupation being the Kaikoura Coast. The Cheviot coast, including Manuka Bay where we got married, was less preferred for hunting and fishing. This makes the area one of the oldest permanently uninhabited places on earth. A fitting place to celebrate our union which we never saw as a celebration of humanity but rather nature. (Wilson; 1993)

When another group of colonist arrived recently in the form of Europeans, they thought the land to be completely uninhabited. Allen Giles wrote of his early years on Mount Parnassus in 1890 that the “Virgin South Island produced a feeling of “frightful loneliness.” He described it as “a brand new land… untouched by the ghosts of men and their traditions. There appeared never to have been men. All was clean, pure and emotionless; unsullied by man’s occupation.” (Wilson; 1993)

Hints of what the Cheviot area looked like before the fires of the Polynesians resulted in the replacement of forests with grasslands and scrubs that have been discovered in Treasure Downs. The discovery happened in 1986 when a farmer discovered moa bones on his farm in the hills east of Cheviot township. Moa is the giant flightless bird, endemic to New Zealand, hunted into extinction by the Maori and by 1440 the extinction was complete. (Perry; 2014) What was revealed through an official archaeological dig is that there once was a small, deep lake in a natural basin in limestone hills. The lake had a peaty margin, fed by underground springs. About 5000 years ago the dominant species had been matai (a black pine, endemic New Zealand), pokaka (a native forest tree of New Zealand), manuka, and flax and fern. Well preserved moa bones were also found in the former lake. (Wilson; 1993)

The Hurunui River Mouth – A Food Gathering Station

80266320_10220746116103674_7292648146969034752_n

Close to Manuka Bay is the Hurunui river mouth. Duff identified it as the location of a Māori food-gathering station. Other artefacts found at the river mouth were a number of adze-heads. They were made from baked argillite originating from the Nelson are and their shape identified them as from the moa-hunter period, six to eight centuries ago. In 1946, a farmer ploughed up a forty-eight kg block of obsidian on his farm at the river mouth. The block was used to make flake tools, even though most of these tools discovered at the river mouth were of flint rather than obsidian.

Manuka Beach – a stopover location

On Manuka Beach, Māori ovens and artifacts have been found. (Wilson; 1993) These ovens are found throughout the region and Nick Harris reports that there are Maori ovens on his farm in the area. These earth ovens were called hāngī or umu. Hāngī sizes varied depending on what was cooked – joints from moa and seals required large ovens, whereas fish or kūmara (sweet potato) could be cooked in smaller ovens. (Teara.govt.nz) These earth ovens were basically a pit, dug in the ground. Stones were heated in the pit with a large fire and baskets were placed on top of the stones. Everything was covered with earth for several hours before uncovering. Exact cooking times and pit design varied depending on what must be cooked and is in use till this day. The origin of the technology is Polynesian. (Ministry for Primary Industries, May 2013 and Genuine Maori Cuisine, 2012)

Ange Montgomery pointed out that there are karaka trees planted in the Cheviot area. The tree is native to the north island and its seeds were planted by the Māori at stopover places as a food source. Another clear indication locals using the area during migration and other movements. Apart from its fruit, this fascinating tree was used as a bait tree. It attracted other animals to feast on its fruits which in turn was caught for food. “Karaka kernel is highly toxic. Under the orange skin of the fruit is an edible pulp. The danger lurks in the kernel or stone of the fruit which contains the toxic alkaloid karakin.

The pulpy flesh can be eaten and to this day people harvest the berries and enjoy them. Some even use the flesh to make an alcoholic karaka drink. The Maori used to use the poisonous kernels as well. They used a special method to prepare the kernels which include soaking, boiling and soaking again as well as cooking in a hangi for 24 hours.” (stuff.co.nz). Ange points out how amazing it is that people were able to work this kind of thing out. The power of observation and careful analysis of the natural world by ancients never ceases to amaze me in a rushed world where we have largely lost this ability!

80807825_10220746046781941_198486162623430656_n

New Zealand and Ancient Preservation Technology

In New Zealand, food was preserved amongst others, using fat. There is a story related to Lake Grassmere or Kapara-te-hau as the Maori’s call it. There is an account of the great chief, Te Rauparahara coming from the north “to take ducks to preserve in fat for winter food.” (theprow.org.nz)

The Māori preserved meat through smoking, sun drying, potting in fat and chilling by dropping containers with meat into water. Sweet potatoes were stored in underground pits, but whether they used these pits for meat is something I do knot know. Mutton birds were placed in inflated kelp and preserved in their own fat. Folded bark from the totata tree was used as containers to store meat, being preserved in fat. (Canterbury Museum)

Added salt would have been part of the diet of Māoris at the coast from seawater when they ate seafood. When they lived inland, no salt would have been added to their diet. Their source of sodium would have been that which is in the meat itself. This means that their diet was somewhat similar to the San and Khoikhoi of Southern Africa who also did not use salt, but there is evidence that they were occasionally exposed to salt traders from the north.

80344055_10220745786495434_7519454267380334592_n

The Polynesians

We were about to arrive at a land I knew nothing about and I was keen to learn as much as I could on the voyage from South Africa to New Zealand.  Who were the Polynesians who populated New Zealand?

I was fascinated by these proud and unique people and believed they had much to teach me. The examples given above would inspire me and I was eager to understand where these people came from. Which other influences shaped their later practices.

80890440_10220746064222377_5299583468206817280_n

First, we need to define what area we are talking about when we refer to Polynesia. “Polynesia is … the islands found roughly in a triangle formed by Hawaii, Aotearoa-New Zealand and Easter Island (Rapa Nui).” (Matisoo-Smith, L. and Denny, M.;2010)

polynesia
The Islands of Polynesia (from Matisoo-Smith, L. and Denny, M.;2010)

Now we can start looking at the neighborhood in which Polynesia is located. We begin by looking at human migration globally before we focus in on Polynesia and its neighborhood. Which were the original homelands of the people of Polynesia that would have impacted on their culture and technology?

Out of Africa

Let us remind ourselves of the current thinking of human migration through the ages to put the Polynesian migration into context. Many of my friends will take issue with the model presented below, but it will at least open the discussion.

out of africa

The dispersal of anatomically modern humans out of Africa. (Graph from Matisoo-Smith, L. and Denny, M.;2010)

Current data seems to indicate “a migration of anatomically modern humans out of Africa around 150,000 – 100,000 BP (Years Before Present), moving east towards Asia and north into Europe. Part of this migration reached South-East Asia by 60,000 BP. Populations of these stone-age hunter-gatherers then expanded from Southeast Asia into the Pacific through New Guinea to Australia and the Bismarck Archipelago by about 45,000 BP. Once in Southeast Asia and Australia, the movement of humans into new areas stopped for nearly 30,000 years. A later wave of expansion out into the rest of the Pacific took place began around 3,500 BP. In this migration, the people went east to Samoa and Tonga and from there north to Hawaii, further east to Easter Island and south to New Zealand. This was the last major human migration event.” (Matisoo-Smith, L. and Denny, M.;2010)

New look at likely migration patterns into Polynesia

Where did the Polynesians come from, genetically and what cultural influences did they have? How dynamic was the interaction between the different Polynesian communities which will give us an indication of the dynamics in cross-cultural exchanges? These are important questions since answering them will allow us to hone in on the right culture, at the right time in an attempt to understand the earliest humans who lived in New Zealand.

Cultural and linguistic analysis identified the Polynesian’s to have originated from Taiwan around 4000 years ago. Recent studies rely on the insight from the more reliable genetic code of current occupants of these lands as well as coding from Polynesian rats, dogs, and chickens and contradict this theory.

Two studies are of interest to us. The first is work (5) conducted by Lisa Matisoo-Smith, Professor of Biological Anthropology at the University of Otago and Principal Investigator in the Allan Wilson Centre. Her research focuses on identifying the origins of Pacific peoples and the plants and animals that travelled with them, in order to better understand the settlement, history, and prehistory of the Pacific and New Zealand. Her research utilises both ancient and modern DNA methods to answer a range of anthropological questions regarding population histories, dispersals, and interactions. I rely on lecture notes published.

“Her work led her and her coworkers to suggest a new model for Polynesian origins, based on an existing framework for Lapita origins suggested by Roger Green in 1991. The first human settlers of Remote Oceania are associated with the Lapita culture, which first appeared in the Bismarck Archipelago in Near Oceania around 3500 BP. (An archipelago is a chain or cluster of islands formed from volcanic activity).”(Matisoo-Smith, L. and Denny, M.;2010)

“The Lapita culture is named after the distinctive patterned pottery, which was first found at a site called Lapita in New Caledonia. Anthropologists are very interested in who the Lapita people were and what role they played in the settlement of the Pacific.” (Matisoo-Smith, L. and Denny, M.;2010)

“Remnants of Lapita pottery are now found throughout many areas of Remote Oceania, which suggests that the Lapita people were the first to settle this area. The age of the pottery remains found in each area supports the idea that this settlement spread from west to east from Melanesia into Polynesia.” (Matisoo-Smith, L. and Denny, M.;2010)

“Evidence such as this suggests that the Lapita people are the ancestors of modern Pacific peoples, but questions remain about whether there could also have been contributions from other populations from Asia and Micronesia at later times.” (Matisoo-Smith, L. and Denny, M.;2010)

Here are the key ideas of the new model for Polynesian origins developed by Lisa and her colleagues, based on an existing framework for Lapita origins suggested by Roger Green in 1991:

1. The Lapita colonists in West Polynesia and the rest of Remote Oceania look very much like the current indigenous populations of Vanuatu, New Caledonia, and western Fiji.
2. Around 1500 BP a new population arrived in Western Polynesia with new and more typically Asian derived physical characteristics, and mtDNA lineages.
3. These new people also introduced new mtDNA lineages of commensal rats, dogs, and chickens.
4. There were intense and complex interactions with the existing Lapita-descended populations as they spread over West Polynesia.
5. This resulted in the formation of the Ancestral Polynesian culture, who then dispersed east, and north into the rest of Polynesia.

This possible scenario is shown in the figure below. The grey arrows show the initial Lapita expansion through Near Oceania and into Remote Oceania. The dotted arrows show the proposed arrival of new population (or populations) from Asia into West Polynesia. The black arrows show the settlement of East Polynesia and a back migration into Melanesia.

Population migration in Polynesia

A new model for the origins of Polynesians From: Addison, D. J., & Matisoo-Smith, E. (2010)

Secondly, I looked at a 2011 study by Soares, et al. (6), which proposes an East Indonesian origin for Polynesian migration. They talk about a ‘‘Polynesian motif’’ which they focused on in their research. The “motif” comprise a clade of mtDNA lineages that together account for >90% of Polynesian mtDNAs. Soares, et al. states that “for the last 15 years, it has been recognized that the age and distribution of this clade are key to resolving the issue of the peopling of Polynesia.”

They explain that “by analyzing 157 complete mtDNA genomes, they show that the motif itself most likely originated more than 6000 years ago (>6 ka) in the vicinity of the Bismarck Archipelago, [off the northeastern coast of New Guinea] and its immediate ancestor is older than 8000 years (>8 ka) and virtually restricted to Near Oceania (includes New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, Bougainville, and the Solomon Islands). This indicates that Polynesian maternal lineages from Island Southeast Asia (Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysian Borneo) gained a foothold in Near Oceania much earlier than dispersal from either Taiwan or Indonesia between 3000 and 4000 years ago (3–4 ka) would predict.

china, australia, etc.

Map Showing China, Taiwan, MSEA, ISEA, Near Oceania, and Remote Oceania

Their work shows that there was a spread back through New Guinea into ISEA, which most likely took place approximately between 4000 and 5000 years ago (~4–5 ka). A more plausible backdrop of the settlement of the Remote Pacific is a model based on the idea of a ‘‘voyaging corridor,’’ facilitating exchange between ISEA and Near Oceania (see map above).

The work further suggests “a convergence of archaeological and genetic evidence, as well as concordance between different lines of genetic evidence.” The authors state that their “results imply an early to mid-Holocene Near Oceanic ancestry for the Polynesian peoples, likely fertilized by small numbers of socially dominant Austronesian-speaking voyagers from ISEA in the Lapita formative period, approximately 3500 years ago (~3.5 ka)”. They claim that their “work can therefore also pave the way for new accounts of the spread of Austronesian languages.”

A Grand Adventure

I only sent two letters back home from New Zealand. They are very personal and I continued to learn. My letters were a way to keep my notes safe and, at the same time, try and lure my kids into this magnificent world!


Further Reading

Bacon Curing – a Historical Review


green-next
green-previous
green-home-icon

(c) eben van tonder

Bacon & the art of living” in bookform
Stay in touch

Like our Facebook page and see the next post. Like, share, comment, contribute!

Bacon and the art of living

Promote your Page too


Notes

(1)  The discovery was made in 2003.

(2)  Lauder published in 1991.

(3)  The discussion is entirely fictional.  Lors Landsdowne was a very intelligent man and very fond of sport, but this discussion never took place.  Everything is from the research of Eben on the subject.

(4) The hotel was the first time opened on Monday 6 March 1899

(5) Extracts from the Matisoo-Smith, L. and Denny, M. (2010) lecture notes.

Likely migration patters into Polynesia

“When looking at human settlement of the Pacific, anthropologists divide the Pacific into two regions namely Near Oceania, which was settled by humans by 30,000 BP and remote Oceania, which was not settled until around 3000 BP.” (Matisoo-Smith, L. and Denny, M.;2010)

Near and Remote Oceania

Near and Remote Oceania (from Matisoo-Smith, L. and Denny, M.;2010)

“The first human settlers of Remote Oceania are associated with the Lapita culture, which first appeared in the Bismarck Archipelago in Near Oceania around 3500 BP. (An archipelago is a chain or cluster of islands formed from volcanic activity).”(Matisoo-Smith, L. and Denny, M.;2010)

“The Lapita culture is named after the distinctive patterned pottery, which was first found at a site called Lapita in New Caledonia. Anthropologists are very interested in who the Lapita people were and what role they played in the settlement of the Pacific.” (Matisoo-Smith, L. and Denny, M.;2010)

“Remnants of Lapita pottery are now found throughout many areas of Remote Oceania, which suggests that the Lapita people were the first to settle this area. The age of the pottery remains found in each area supports the idea that this settlement spread from west to east from Melanesia into Polynesia.” (Matisoo-Smith, L. and Denny, M.;2010)

“Evidence such as this suggests that the Lapita people are the ancestors of modern Pacific peoples, but questions remain about whether there could also have been contributions from other populations from Asia and Micronesia at later times.” (Matisoo-Smith, L. and Denny, M.;2010)

The first study of Matisoo-Smith and Denny (2010) “looked at the variation in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of living populations of Pacific rats from islands around the Pacific. mtDNA is inherited only from the mother, therefore there is no mixing with the father’s DNA or recombination during meiosis. This means that differences in the mtDNA due to mutation can be traced back through the generations. Scientists use the variation in the mtDNA to work out the relationships between different populations.” (Matisoo-Smith, L. and Denny, M.;2010)

“The results of this study suggested that it is highly likely that there were multiple introductions of the Pacific rat to the Pacific Islands. This raised the question, “did these introductions all occur at the same time or at different times?” If they were at different times then this suggests that another group of people migrated into the Pacific sometime after the Lapita people.” (Matisoo-Smith, L. and Denny, M.;2010)

“This question cannot be answered by studying modern mtDNA, as variation in modern mtDNA only shows different origins,—it doesn’t show the timing. Ancient DNA, however, could be used to answer this question. Ancient DNA is any DNA extracted from tissues such as bone that are not fresh or preserved for DNA extraction later. When an organism dies, the DNA molecules immediately start to break down, which makes it difficult to extract good quality DNA for analysis. The hot and wet environment found in most of the Pacific makes it just about the worst area for DNA preservation. Despite this Lisa and other Allan Wilson Centre researchers have been able to obtain DNA from Pacific samples as old as 3000—4000 years.” (Matisoo-Smith, L. and Denny, M.;2010)

“If the age of the remains is known then the likely date of the introduction of new genetic material can be estimated. The team next investigated ancient DNA from the remains of Kiore (Pacific rat) found in different archaeological sites around the Pacific looking for patterns in the haplotypes in mtDNA. A haplotype is a combination of alleles that are located closely together.

Lisa found three distinct groups of haplotypes, – shown as Groups I, II and III in Figure 7.

Polynesian rat distribution

Distribution of the three groups of Pacific Rat haplotypes in Near and Remote Oceania. From: Matisoo-Smith, E., & Robins, J. H. (2004)

“Three clearly different haplotypes (or genetic groups) is an indication that these populations of rats are likely to have quite different ancestral origins. Group III does not fit the expected pattern. It shows no genetic link with the haplotypes found in Near Oceania. This suggests that this haplotype may be the result of a later introduction of the Pacific Rat into Polynesia sometime after the Lapita introduction.” (Matisoo-Smith, L. and Denny, M.;2010)

“To test this hypothesis Lisa and her team carried out similar studies of variation in both modern and ancient mtDNA in pigs and chickens. In both of these animals the results showed there are introductions that are consistent in geographic distribution and time of appearance in the archaeological record with a Lapita introduction. But other mtDNA studies on dogs of the Pacific, plus the rat and chicken data all indicate a second introduction. This suggests a second population migration out of Asia sometime after 2000 BP.” (Matisoo-Smith, L. and Denny, M.;2010)

“These results have led Lisa and her colleagues to suggest a new model for Polynesian origins. It is based on an existing framework for Lapita origins suggested by Roger Green in 1991. Here are the key ideas:

1. The Lapita colonists in West Polynesia and the rest of Remote Oceania look very much like the current indigenous populations of Vanuatu, New Caledonia and western Fiji

2. Around 1500 BP a new population arrived in Western Polynesia with new and more typically Asian derived physical characteristics, and mtDNA lineages.

3. These new people also introduced new mtDNA lineages of commensal rats, dogs and chickens.

4. There was intense and complex interactions with the existing Lapita-descended populations as they spread over West Polynesia.

5. This resulted in the formation of the Ancestral Polynesian culture, who then dispersed east, and north into the rest of Polynesia.

This possible scenario is shown in the figure below. The grey arrows show the initial Lapita expansion through Near Oceania and into Remote Oceania. The dotted arrows show the proposed arrival of new population (or populations) from Asia into West Polynesia. The black arrows show the settlement of East Polynesia and a back migration into Melanesia.

Population migration in Polynesia

A new model for the origins of Polynesians From: Addison, D. J., & Matisoo-Smith, E. (2010)

6. Extracts from a 2011 study by Soares, et al., proposing an East Indonesian origin for Polynesia and discounting the “Out of Taiwone model

A 2011 study by Soares, et al., proposes an East Indonesian origin. They talk about a ‘‘Polynesian motif.’’ The “motif” and its descendants comprise a clade of mtDNA lineages that together account for >90% of Polynesian mtDNAs. Soares, et al. states that “for the last 15 years, it has been recognized that the age and distribution of this clade are key to resolving the issue of the peopling of Polynesia.”

They explain that “by analyzing 157 complete mtDNA genomes, they show that the motif itself most likely originated more than 6000 years ago (>6 ka) in the vicinity of the Bismarck Archipelago, [off the northeastern coast of New Guinea] and its immediate ancestor is older than 8000 years (>8 ka) and virtually restricted to Near Oceania (includes New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, Bougainville, and the Solomon Islands). This indicates that Polynesian maternal lineages from Island Southeast Asia (Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysian Borneo) gained a foothold in Near Oceania much earlier than dispersal from either Taiwan or Indonesia between 3000 and 4000 years ago (3–4 ka) would predict.

china, australia, etc.

Map Showing China, Taiwan, MSEA, ISEA, Near Oceania, and Remote Oceania

Their work shows that there was a spread back through New Guinea into ISEA, which most likely took place approximately between 4000 and 5000 years ago (~4–5 ka). A more plausible backdrop of the settlement of the Remote Pacific is a model based on the idea of a ‘‘voyaging corridor,’’ facilitating exchange between ISEA and Near Oceania (see map above).

How did the cultural markers and the linguistic similarities between these regions and that of Taiwan develop? Soares, et al. suggests that there is evidence of further small-scale bidirectional movements across this region when Austronesian-speaking voyagers integrated with coastal-dwelling groups in the Bismarcks, perhaps stimulating the rise and spread of the Lapita culture and the dispersal of the Oceanic languages. “Other lineages from Southeast Asia are also found at low frequencies in Near Oceania, and still, others are candidates for dispersal from Taiwan into eastern Indonesia via the Philippines, but they did not reach Oceania. Some of these may have also been involved in the transmission of Austronesian culture and languages, although they evidently had no demic role in the founding of Polynesia.

Thus, although the results of the Soares, et al. study “rule out any substantial maternal ancestry in Taiwan for Polynesians, they do not preclude an Austronesian linguistic dispersal from Taiwan to Oceania between 3000-4000 years ago (3–4 ka), mediated by social networks rather than directly by people of Taiwanese ancestry but perhaps involving small numbers of migrants at various times.”

“The mtDNA patterns point to the possibility of a staged series of dispersals of small numbers of Austronesian speakers, each followed by a period of extensive acculturation and language shift. Overall, though, the mtDNA evidence highlights a deeper and more complex history of two-way maritime interaction between ISEA and Near Oceania than is evident from most previous accounts. Archaeological and linguistic evidence for maritime interaction between ISEA and Near Oceania during the early and mid-Holocene is strengthening, however, and it has been suggested that contacts might have been facilitated by sea-level rises and improvements in conditions on the north coast of
New Guinea. Early to mid-Holocene social networks between New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago are marked by the spread of stone mortars and pestles,
obsidian, and stemmed obsidian tools from approximately 8000 years ago (~8 ka) until
before or alongside the advent of Lapita pottery in the Bismarcks at around 3500 years ago (~3.5 ka). The absence of early Lapita pottery on New Guinea suggests major disruptions to preexisting exchange networks within Near Oceania before or at approximately 3500 years ago (~3.5 ka), with increasing social isolation of some areas and increasing interaction between others.”

“There is also emerging evidence from both archaeology and archaeobotany for the spread of domesticates during the mid-Holocene, before the presumed advent of Austronesian dominance from approximately 4000 years ago (~4 ka). Molecular analyses suggest that bananas, sago, greater yam, and sugarcane all underwent early domestication in the New Guinea region. These cultivars and associated cultivation practices diffused westward into ISEA, where the plants and linguistic terms for them were adopted by Proto-Malayo-Polynesian speakers upon their arrival approximately 4000 years ago (~4 ka). The vegetative cultivation of these plants evidently occurred within ISEA before any Taiwanese influences became significant.”

The work suggests “a convergence of archaeological and genetic evidence, as well as concordance between different lines of genetic evidence.” The authors state that their “results imply an early to mid-Holocene Near Oceanic ancestry for the Polynesian peoples, likely fertilized by small numbers of socially dominant Austronesian-speaking voyagers from ISEA in the Lapita formative period, approximately 3500 years ago (~3.5 ka)”. They claim that their “work can therefore also pave the way for new accounts of the spread of Austronesian languages.”

References

https://atc.archives.gov.tw/salt/english/02_history/01_story_a.asp?menu=1

Andersen, J. C.. 1928. Myths and Legends of the Polynesians. Dover Publications.

“Background Note: Vanuatu”. US Department of State. Archived from the original on 13 May 2008.
Bedford, Stuart; Spriggs, Matthew (2008). “Northern Vanuatu as a Pacific Crossroads: The Archaeology of Discovery, Interaction, and the Emergence of the “Ethnographic Present””.Asian Perspectives. UP Hawaii. 47 (1): 95–120. JSTOR 42928734

Burley, D. V., Tache, K., Purser, P., Balenaivalu, R. J.. 210. An archaeology of salt production in Fiji. ANTIQUITY 85 (2011): 187–200. http://antiquity.ac.uk/ant/085/ant0850187.htm187

Campbell, J. 1822. “A narrative of the second journey in the interior of that country.” Francis Wesley

Flad, R., Zhu, J., Wang, C., Chen, P., von Falkenhausen, L., Sun, Z., & Li, S. (2005). Archaeological and chemical evidence for early salt production in China. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America102(35), 12618–12622. http://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0502985102

Haberkorn, G. 1992. Temporary versus Permanent Population Mobility in Melanesia: A Case Study from Vanuatu. The International Migration Review; Vol. 26, No. 3 (Autumn, 1992), pp. 806-842; Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. on behalf of the Center for Migration Studies of New York, Inc.; DOI: 10.2307/2546966; Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/2546966https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-much-sodium-per-day

Jean-Michel Dupuyoo, 2007, Notes on the Uses of Metroxylon in Vanuatu, Jardin d’Oiseaux Tropicaux Conservatoire, Biologique Tropical, 83250 La Londe-les-Maures, France, Metroxylon in Vanuatu Vol. 51(1) 2007, PALMS 51(1): 31–38, jmdupuyoo@yahoo.fr

HuangFusan (2005), A Brief History of Taiwan: A Sparrow Transformed into a Phoenix, Taipei: Government Information Office.

Matisoo-Smith, L. and Denny, M.. 2010. LENScience Senior Biology Seminar Series Rethinking Polynesian Origins: Human Settlement of the Pacific. Copyright © Liggins Institute. http://LENS.auckland.ac.nz

Nakayama, T., (1959), “Taiwan’s Buckskin Production and Its Exports to Japan in the 17th Century,” (translated into Chinese), Volumes on Taiwan Studies, no. 71. Taipei: Bank of Taiwan.

Roberts, J. A. G., 2011. A History of China, 3rd ed., Palgrave Macmillan.

From the article, “Salt Production at a Post-Lapita Village in Nadroga.” https://coralcoastfiji.org/fiji-tradition-culture/salt-production-lapita-nadroga

Soares, P., Rito, T., Trejaut, J., Mormina, M., Hill, C.,Tinkler-Hundal, E., Braid, M., Clarke, D. J., Loo, J-H., Thomson, N., Denham, T., Donohue, M., Macaulay, V., Lin, M., Oppenheimer, S., Richards, M. B.; 2011. Ancient Voyaging and Polynesian Origins, AJHG, Volume 88, Issue 2, p239 – 247, 11 February 2011.

Taiwan Today, Publication Date: December 01, 1991; The Last Salt Farmers; https://taiwantoday.tw/news.php?unit=12,29,33,45&post=22441Williams, T. 1858. Fiji and the Fijians. London: Alexander Heyland.Photo Credit: By Joseph Smit – http://www.50birds.com/extan/gextanimals10.htm, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4383372

Photos

All photos from Maori lore, 1904, by Izett, James.