Ben R. Finney (ed.)

Pacific navigation and voyaging

The Polynesian society - Memoir, 39

Wellington, 1976

bibliothèque insulaire


Pacific navigation and voyaging / compiled by Ben R. Finney. - Wellington (New Zealand) : The Polynesian society, 1976. - 146 p.-[1] folded leaf of plate : ill., maps ; 25 cm. - (Memoir, 39).


What do we learn about voyaging and navigation in the Pacific from the research findings reported in this volume ? It would be a mistake to attempt to use these findings to « prove » this or that theory about navigation or settlement. The experiments described here cannot be considered « crucial experiments » that conclusively confirm or negate a hypothesis. Similarly, a computer simulation does not tell you what actually did, or will, happen in the real world. And, needless to say, ethnographic findings are seldom definitive. What these reports, and other recently published field research findings, do provide is new data that contribute toward a better understanding of how Pacific Islanders were adapted to the sea.

It is apparent, for example, that the Micronesians and Polynesians, and perhaps some of the peoples of Melanesia, shared a unique deep-sea adaptation. With their many types of ocean-going canoes, their use of the stars and other natural phenomena for navigation, and their sensual and emotional familiarity with the sea, these Pacific Islanders were able to treat the oceans as an avenue, not a barrier, to communication. They were not, however, conquerors of the sea. Adaptation, not conquest, is the appropriate term to denote how they had learned to travel through the Pacific, for voyaging and navigation was (and still is for some) a matter of man adapting his technology and life style to the wind, stars, swells and other aspects of his oceanic environment.


New, non-armchair research, p. 9


Introduction : New, non-armchair research, Ben R. Finney

Part I : Experimental research

  • A return voyage between Puluwat and Saipan using micronesian navigational techniques, David Lewis
  • Wa, vinta and trimaran, Edwin Doran Jr.
  • Paddling experiments and the question of polynesian voyaging, Steven M. Horvath & Ben R. Finney

Part II : Computer simulation research

  • The settlement of the polynesian outliers : a computer simulation, R. Gerard Ward, John W. Webb & M. Levison

Part III : Ethnographic research

  • Sailing with the Amphlett islanders, Peter K. Lauer
  • The organisation of navigational knowledge on Puluwat, Saul H. Riesenberg
  • A renaissance in Carolinian-Marianas voyaging, Michael McCoy

SERGE DUNIS : Ben Finney est le grand nom de l'anthropologie du Pacifique, celui qui, en quittant sa Californie natale en pirogue reconstituée, a sorti la discipline de la théorie pour la soumettre à la pratique. Depuis son trajet épique entre Hawai'i et Tahiti en pirogue double barrée sans instruments, tous les archipels du Grand Océan, ainsi remis en phase avec leur tradition hauturière, ont repris les routes maritimes. Ben Finney vient de se retirer après avoir dirigé le Département d'Anthropologie de l'Université d'Hawai'i dix ans durant et initié l'anthropologie de l'espace. Il se consacre désormais à l'écriture et travaille beaucoup avec le Bishop Museum d'Honolulu. Dans son immense bibliographie, citons : Hokule'a, the way to Tahiti, New York, Dodd, Mead & Co., 1979 ; Voyages of rediscovery, a cultural odyssey through Polynesia, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London, University of California Press, 1994.

« Le Grand Océan : le temps et l'espace du Pacifique », Genève : Georg Éd., 2003 (p. 12)

mise-à-jour : 13 septembre 2005
Ben R. Finney (ed.) : Pacific navigation and voyaging