Caption: Mapping the journey . . .A map showing the journey taken by tupuna (ancestors) of the Maori and other Polynesians from South Africa around 3300 years to eventually arrive in Aotearoa New Zealand, according to Cedric Livingstone's new book.
A lifelong search for Polynesian origins led to a Canterbury man writing a book.
Cedric Livingstone, of Christchurch, has written The Origin of the Polynesians after spending his early childhood visiting Maori elders at the Porangahau Pa in the North Island.
His father was the teacher at Porangahau School and, from the age of three, he would visit the pa almost daily.
“The old people at the pa were the ones with the chiselled moko and they taught me their ancient language and passed on their stories.
“They couldn't read or write. Everything was passed down orally.”
He says he was taught the correct pronunciation of the Maori word mana, meaning honour or prestige, is “ah-mana”.
While he has no Maori ancestry himself, Mr Livingstone says he always remembered these oral histories and was inspired to find out their origins.
It has been well established through DNA and genetic research that Maori share a common ancestry with other Polynesians in the South Pacific, but Mr Livingstone says the missing link is “Hei Tiki”, the Maori god for protecting women and infants during childbirth.
“The elders with the moko explained to me that the 'tiki' is only worn by women, never by men.”
His research led to the images of the Egyptian god Bes, which are identical to the 'tiki'. And so he became “an amateur Egyptologist”.
The ancient Egyptians worshipped the sky god Ra, which is also the Maori word for the sun.
Other ancient Egyptian words give clues, such as amarna (place or state of great prestige - similar to mana), nekhaka (the flailing / threshing of grain and shortened to haka), hapy (god of water - Maori hape), haere (town in Egyptian) and kheper (keeper of secrets).
A further clue is the mummified 3000-year-old remains of a woman named Kea, the wife of Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten, which have been DNA tested and shares DNA with Polynesians.
Kea's family is believed to have originated from Madagascar, which shares some Maori words, including rua for the number two.
Akhenaten is believed to have presided over the Amarna period and founded a city called Tell-el-Amarna, abandoned soon after his death.
Mr Livingstone says this could explain an exodus of Polynesian ancestors from Africa.
“We tend to think of Polynesians as being one race, but there were two - the Egyptians had the navigation and the Afronesians were waka-builders.”
He believes the journey began in South Africa, then Madagascar, around 3300 years ago, venturing around the coastline of Africa and southern Asia to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands and into the South Pacific.
Mr Livingstone hopes to return to Porangahau one day to meet the descendants of those elders who shared their traditions to pass on what he has discovered.
“It's giving Maori their pre-history that they've never had before,” he says.
“We think of them only as a 700-year (pre-European) culture, but they go way back.”
The Origin of the Polynesians by Cedric Livingstone is on sale at The Little Book Company bookshop in Rangiora.