Sun, Sep 02, 2018 - Page 6 News List

The Liberty Times Editorial: Focus on Aboriginal roots justified

A group of young Maori people from New Zealand arrived in Taiwan on Wednesday. Traveling 9,000km, they came here to search for their cultural roots. They believe that, thousands of years ago, their ancestors departed from Taiwan and sailed canoes across the ocean. Relying on extraordinary nautical expertise and knowledge of astronomy and hydrology, they conquered the ocean and, after several stops along the way, eventually arrived in New Zealand.

For the Maori people, Taiwan is “where everything begins.” The group named itself Hawaiki Nui, as Hawaiki refers to the origin of ancestors and place of birth in the Maori language.

Arapeta Hamilton, traditional leader of the Ngati Manu tribe from New Zealand’s North Island, said he cried on arriving in Taiwan and on seeing the sun rise over the mountains, adding that he “wept with emotion for our common ancestors.”

The visiting group presented performances such as the Maori war dance kapa haka. They had language, cultural and worship exchanges with Taiwanese Aborigines, and observed their hunting skills, ecological education, oceanic knowledge, weaving, dance and music.

The kinship and historical ties between the Maori people and Taiwan’s Aborigines have been scientifically established.

Linguistic, archeological anthropology and genetic research point to Taiwan being the origin of all Austronesian peoples, or at least one of several ancestral sites.

An “Out of Taiwan” model is already an established hypothesis in the international academic community.

The Austronesian peoples have since expanded to a region encompassing Taiwan to the north, New Zealand to the south, Easter Island to the east and Madagascar, off the African coast, to the west, with more than 1,200 languages and a population of about 400 million.

Taiwan’s almost 30 Aboriginal languages preserve diverse and abundant characteristics of the Proto-Austronesian language, evidence that Taiwan might be the earliest departing point of the outward expansion.

A project led by Australian academics with a team of researchers from the US, Germany, Ireland and other nations used DNA analysis to show that Taiwan is the most likely origin of the Austronesians from the perspective of genetics and archeological anthropology.

Earliest Austronesian activities on Taiwan can be traced back 8,000 years, and 5,500 years ago, the peoples employed nautical skills learned on the Jianan Plain to expand from Taiwan to the southern Pacific Ocean, reaching New Zealand about 700 years ago.

The blood and cultural ties of Taiwan’s Aborigines and New Zealand’s Maori run deep.

Australian archeologist Matthew Spriggs has depicted the migration route taken by Austronesians: setting off from Taiwan, stopping in the northern Philippines and eastern Indonesia, and forming the Lapita culture before spreading out across the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, the Fiji Islands, East Tonga, Samoa, Hawaii, Easter Island and New Zealand.

This major human migration has been neglected in Taiwan, as successive foreign regimes have viewed Taiwan as a backwater, debasing and belittling the nation’s Aborigines and suppressing study and understanding of the history of Formosa.

The majority Han Chinese population has lived in Taiwan for only 400 years, which does not compare with the thousands of years of the native Austronesian population.

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