Welcome to the Norfolk Island Museum's blog. We are lucky to be located in the most beautiful part of a stunning island in the South Pacific. We are a little island, but our history and stories are great - from Polynesian and convict settlements to the home of the Bounty mutineers. Hopefully you'll enjoy our stories.
The first people to occupy Norfolk Island travelled here by canoe as part of the great
Polynesian voyaging. The history of these people can be described as one of the
last, great expansions of Homo sapiens
as this species left Africa, passed through Asia, down the east coast and
divided at what is now Taiwan, one section going through to Australia, the
other section through to New Guinea and out into the pacific Ocean. This
happened some 30,000 years ago when the migration halted for thousands of
years. From there the migration divided into three sections – one northwards,
now named Micronesia, one
eastward named Melanesia and the last one Polynesia,
the largest of the three. This is known as the Polynesian triangle; the most
northward corner is Hawaii, the eastern corner
Easter Island and the south corner New Zealand.
Unearthing the Marae
New Zealand is considered to be the last area of the migrations and the date of
the first settlements on the South island was
about 750AD. The Polynesians were excellent mariners and soon colonised the
North island and the outlying ones. From here they still explored the surroundings
and ventured in their canoes to see what lay beyond the horizon.
Now the story of Norfolk
Island can be told – the small settlement here was discovered and
excavated in the late 1990s. Many artefacts had been found on the surface from
the date of the first British settlement in 1788 to the present day and it was
decided that a team of archaeologists should explore the possibilities of
finding a living area. This was done and the artefacts recovered put the date
of settlement as between 800AD and 1450AD.
Some of the most revealing specimens
recovered show that the voyagers had possibly been to other places as about 26
small pieces of obsidian (volcanic glass) were recovered in one area near Emily
Bay and analysis of these pieces revealed that 25 of them had come from the
Kermadec Islands (northeast of New Zealand) and one piece from Mayer island
which is on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand. Itmust be
remembered that trading may have taken place and goods swapped so the above
cannot be verified.
In 1999 the living area was found and
excavated and the artefacts recovered were enough to realise that the
Polynesians had been here for many years. It is not known how many lived here,
how many trips were made, what caused the Island
to become deserted, or if any died here as no burials were found. The Group
excavating were restricted as to how many square metres could be explored so,
after the major find of a marae (pictured),
the excavations had to cease as all available area had been examined”.