The online Te Ara encyclopaedia is a commendable concept but can it
maintain credibility when a section promotes false traditions? One doesn't
need to be a specialist in any subject to be able to see through the
Details are given of replica voyages and a Micronesian mariner named Mau
who supposedly understood early Pacific skills. A star compass attempts to
add verification to the belief that Polynesians had long-distance
navigational ability. There are references to the upright Southern Cross,
other constellations, and degrees. Since the main data in the compass
originates from European sources it is a fraud.
Grouping stars into constellations was an early Middle Eastern invention
and there is no evidence that Pacific people devised an identical system.
The Southern Cross was unrecognized as a constellation until the middle of
the fifteenth century when European explorers sailed down the west coast
of Africa and southern stars came into view. The significance of the
upright Cross does not automatically occur to someone looking at the
configuration. The arrangement was found to be useful long after it was
proved by geographers that the earth is a sphere, has an equator, and
poles. The earliest known reference to the fact of the north/south axis
from the Pole Star to the Cross is recorded in a work published in 1514.
The division of the circle into 360 degrees dates back at least to the
Sumerians. Since there is no evidence that Pacific people devised a
similar system Mau obviously borrowed the idea.
The false star compass and associated data have no place in a history of
Pacific exploration. Since all modern sailors have a knowledge of basic
navigational data gained from thousands of years of research by eastern
and western scientists, replica voyages are useless for proving any
ancient navigational theory. □