The Hawaiian ship Hokulea
arrives at Yokohama port near Toyko, Japan, on June 9, 2007.
The vessel is a full-scale replica of a Polynesian voyaging canoe used by early Hawaiians.
A new Australian study supports a similar "proof of concept" sailing voyage completed by a Hokulea
crew in 1976. The journey proved it is possible to travel from Hawaii to Tahiti and back using only traditional navigation techniques.
But for early Polynesians, such risky voyages would initially have been exploratory, said Ben Finney, a professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Hawaii.
Canoes would have been laden with tools, provisions, and a crew of men and women carefully selected to establish new colonies, he said.
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Photograph by Koji Sasahara/AP