Friday, October 29, 2010

Climate Change And Global Warming

Greetings everybody!

Some thoughts on Climate Change and Global Warming in Oceania/Pacific Islands and elsewhere.
Kam bati n rabwa, Tekeraoi, Ti a boo moa.

Oceania And Global Warming (

Aspects of Global Warming (

Oceania And Global Warming (
Causes and Effects:

Oceania And Global Warming (1) (
Unnatural Disasters:

Jane's Oceania Home Page:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


A growing number of archaeological finds suggest the Americas were settled earlier than thought, and by at least two different groups of people. What's startling is that the oldest human remains look like Australian Aborigines.

Who were the first people to set foot in the Americas? For a long time, the answer to this question seemed as sharply defined as the end of the fluted hunting tools known as 'Clovis points' found in scattered sites across North America: humans colonised the Americas rather late in the history of human expansion.

After scampering about in trees for a few million years, anatomically modern humans emerged in Africa and promptly began migrating to the four corners of the world. The earliest ancestors expanded throughout Asia, arriving in Australia at least 50,000 years ago, Europe at least 45,000 years ago and western Melanesia at least 40,000 years ago. There, the eastward expansion came to a halt. The last two habitable continents remained out of reach across the wide open body of water we now call the Pacific Ocean.

Eventually, one group of humans, with distinctive Mongoloid features, around Northern Asia mastered the art of hunting mega fauna. During the last Ice Age, when the world's water was locked up in massive ice sheets and glaciers, the Bering Strait was drained to reveal the continental shelf between Siberia and Alaska. The ancestors of today's Native Americans followed the herds of mammoths, long-horn bison and horses on the final eastward expansion, arriving in the New World by about 11,200 years ago.

According to this traditional view, the big-game hunters of Mongoloid appearance continued their expansion southward, through an interior ice-free path formed by the retreating glaciers. When they reached what is today the western United States, they flourished. Their success is marked by the prolific stone hunting tools first found near the town of Clovis, New Mexico, in the 1930s. In less than 1,000 years, the Clovis people (as they're known) trekked from Alaska to the tip of South America, eventually founding all the indigenous populations of North and South America.

Modern research has suggested as a consequence of other archaeological evidence becoming available from ancient sites that predate the Clovis culture that other races initially settled along the west coast of the Americas. Indeed, later research has indicated that the people who left Africa in the initial mass colonisation event were not altered by the Pacific Ocean.

One example of this earlier settlement has been found from an ancient "Luzia woman" whose skeleton is held in the University of Sao Paolo, Brazil. This skeleton has a very projected space, with her chin sitting out further than her forehead. She has a long, narrow brain case, measured from the eyes to the back of the skull, a low nose and low orbits - the space where the eyes sit. Indeed, Luzia looks very much like an Australian aboriginal.

Luzia, however, was discovered a world away, thirteen metres underground in Central Brazil, in one of the many mine stone rock shelters that make up an extensive system called Lapa Vermelha. In the mid 1990s the bones were analysed and it was concluded that they all belonged to a single female who was named "Luzia" as a homage to a specimen of Australopithicus afarensis dubbed Lucy, one of the early hominids in Africa who walked on two legs instead of four. Exact carbon dating could not be performed on Luzia who died when she was in her early 20s because researchers did not have the protein collagen necessary to date human remains. However, the layers of the rock shelter in which she was found indicate that she lived between 11,000 and 11,500 years ago. Scientists have indicated that Luzia may well be the oldest human skeleton in the Americas.

Certainly Luzia is not alone. Several skeletal remains have since been analysed in seven archaeological sites from the far north as Florida in the USA and as far south as Chile. They all look most similar to sub-Saharan Africans, Australian Aborigines and some of the original populations of the Pacific Islands. What they don't look like is native Americans or East Asians. While Luzia may be the oldest human remains discovered in the Americas, she was not the first to be found.

As early as 1989, some scientists proposed the existence of a non-mongoloid migration into the Americas that pre-dated the Clovis culture. An examination of 38 skeletons from three sites in Brazil and Colombia dated from 6000 to 12,000 years ago. The research suggested a clear biological affinity between the early South Americans and the South Pacific population. This association suggested the conclusion that the Americas were occupied before the spreading of the classical mongoloid morphology in Asia. This conclusion was further strengthened by the analysis of a further 81 skeletons from Lagoa Santa.

Certainly, the conclusion raises the question of how on earth did a group of people who look like Australian Aborigines get all the way to Brazil at least 12,000 years ago. Research has shown that these people were in China about 20,000 years ago and that the mongoloid population that you see in Asia today is more recent. One possibility is that Luzia's "American Aborigines" shared a last common ancestor with the Australian aborigines in Southeast Asia with one group setting to the great southern land (Australia), arriving around 50,000 years ago. The other group wound their way through Asia and eventually made their way to Siberia, across the Bering Strait to Alaska. They did this thousands of years before the Clovis people.

Research is still being undertaken as to the manner in which these early people crossed the Bering Strait with some archaeologists suggesting that North and South America were colonized by boats. At this time, archaeologists continued to piece together theories based on circumstantial evidence such as remains while geneticists examine population today and look for clues to their paths in mutations in the human DNA build-up in order to pinpoint when these mutations first appeared. Then, using particular mutations as markers, they can then trace the journey of different peoples back in time. In the case of Luzia, and her relative bones, DNA analysis is no easy task because the bones are so old that the DNA is highly degraded and contaminated with other human DNA, bacteria and viruses. While Brazil may have been too hot and wet to provide a good DNA sample, this problem does not exist at the southern tip of the continent.

As a result of the above, researchers are working from samples from the southern region using new sequencing technology that can directly read the ancient pieces of DNA. It is this research that will conclusively prove who reached the New World first. Could it really have been the common ancestor of the Australian Aborigines or even the Australian Aborigines themselves? Did they take the voyage across the vast Pacific in flimsy craft or did they brave the southern ocean to reach the tip of South America? Alternatively, did they perverse the distances up to Siberia and across the Bering Strait and all the way to southernmost Chile?

This Web site:

Australia - Aboriginal - America

will be updated further when the results of ongoing research become available.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

200 New Species Discovered In Remote Papua New Guinea

200 New Species Discovered
In Remote Papua New Guinea

A spectacular array of more than 200 new species has been discovered in the Pacific Islands of Papua New Guinea, including a white-tailed mouse and a tiny, long-snouted frog.

The survey of remote New Britain Island and the Southern Highlands ranges, accessible only by a combination of small plane, dinghy, helicopter and foot, found an exciting range of new mammals, amphibians, insects and plants.

People have heard of birds of paradise and tree-climbing kangaroos, but when you look even closer at the small things you just realise that there's a staggering diversity out there that we really know nothing about.

Papua New Guinea's jungles are one of just three wild rainforest areas, along with the Amazon and the Congo basin, left in the world, and as such comprise a vast "storehouse" of biodiversity, with scores of new species.

Scientists have indicated that only half of the things documented actually have names.

The rugged, mountainous and largely inaccessible terrain meant biologists had not even been able to enter some regions and there were large areas of New Guinea that are pretty much unexplored biologically.

Genetic testing used to prove new species such as the mouse which confirmed that it was not related to any known creature.

There is little doubt that these kinds of discoveries are certainly good news story amongst all the gloom, particularly when one considers the creeping extinction of other creatures.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010



The Deadly Awards are held each year in Australia to celebrate Indigenous achievements in entertainment, music, sport and the community.

One big winner in the 2010 awards was the film 'Bran Nue Dae' which was named Film of the Year. The music from this most entertaining film (which my dear family, friends and I have seen and enjoyed immensely) has been proudly featured on our Flagship Station: Pacific Islands Radio - along with the music of the talented Archie Roach whose sixth studio album: '1988' was awarded - Album Release of the Year!

Please check out our Oceania Web sites: for more information about Archie Roach;
along with our Pacific Islands Radio Web site to enjoy the enchanting and beautiful music from 'Bran Nue Dae':

It is certainly pleasing to see that more than 29,000 votes were cast for the 2010 awards and that the importance of these awards are now being recognised, to a much greater extent, by the mainstream community.

Perhaps more importantly, these important awards deliver a strong and healthy message to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community - that, hopefully, will provide inspiration to all Indigenous Australians and, in particular, to young Indigenous Australians across the country.

Our very sincere Congratulations to all the successful artists! Well done!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pacific Islands Radio - The Beautiful Music Of Micronesia

Welcome Everybody!

This is a listening guide to the many
listeners of our Internet Pacific Islands
Radio Stations.

I will focus on issues relating to Pacific
Island music and to embrace some of the
exciting changes taking place in the Internet
Radio Revolution, as well as updated information
on our Pacific Island Artists, Programming and


Welcome to beautiful Micronesia!

As mentioned previously, and after our
recent trip to spectacular and exotic
Melanesia, it is now my great pleasure to
be able to share with you a brief outline
of the traditional and contemporary music
(and dance) of fantastic Micronesia!

The people of Micronesia were the last
ethnic group to migrate into the Pacific
region, being preceded by many thousands
of years by the Melanesians and, some
thousands of years earlier, by the people of
Polynesia. Indeed, there is a growing amount
of evidence to suggest that the many islands
and atolls of Micronesia have been inhabited
for at least 3000 years, and that the ancient
origin of the migrants was Southeast

Much of the evidence to support this is
based on the study of the languages of the
Micronesian people. The Gilbertese
(Kiribati) language, for example, belongs to
the very large Austronesian language family
which evolved in Southeast Asia and began
to spread into the Pacific about 5000 years
ago. With the exception of some societies
in the Solomon Islands and New Guinea,
all languages in the Pacific, including the
Gilbertese language, belong to this family.

Also, of course, the study of plants in the
Pacific in recent years has revealed some
important evidence about the migrations
of people. With few exceptions, all useful
food and fibre plants found today in the
Pacific islands originated outside the Pacific.
For example, all the important plants used
by Gilbertese (I-Kiribati or Kiribati people),
the coconut, breadfruit, babai or taro, as
well as pandanus, are native to the Southeast
Asia/Indonesia area. Researchers can only
conclude that they must have been brought
to the islands by the early settlers.

The music and associated dance forms in
Micronesia are distinctive, yet, they are closely
related in many ways to that of their Polynesian
counterpart. With the exception of Truk (Chuuk)
in the central Caroline Group, which displays
traits of Melanesian and possibly Indonesian
influence, the music structure of all parts of
Micronesia is predominantly word-determined,
as is that of Polynesia. The origins of traditional
Micronesian music, however, are generally quite
obscure with the music having been handed
down by older folks to the younger children.

Composing traditional music involves a
considerable amount of ritualism and magic.
The composer does not compose the music
himself, but rather the song or songs are given
to the composers in a mythical setting - possibly
in a dream or a trance. The task of the composer
is then to follow the secret methodology that their
predecessors had passed on to them to produce
a song that is regarded as being magically blessed.

The second method of composing songs is one
which involves no magic and results from somebody
wishing to have a song made for him. In this case,
the person tells the story to be told to the composer
who listens intently and full of concentration. At a
later time, the composer may ask for further
information and the person requesting the song must
provide all the needed details.The most commonly
composed songs of this nature are love songs.These
are often about love for someone you will never
see again or a place that you have left behind. The
most popular ones, however, are about love between
a boy and a girl, a man and a woman or a husband
and a wife. The same process is also used for wedding
songs, competition songs, religious songs, war songs,
dance music and children's songs. The composer has
to know what song you want and he must be provided
with all the information to do it.

The third manner in which a song may be composed
is when, occasionally, a composer may wish to
compose an original song. In this case the composer
first works on firstly developing the tune by humming
it. When this is completed he will then think about
the words to go with the music until a very original
composition results.

Micronesian songs and chants have been composed
to cover many of the diverse and varied aspects
of life in Micronesia. These can include toddy
cutting songs, love songs, presentation of food,
songs for sick people, launching a canoe or putting
a small baby to sleep. In many cases the songs or
chants call on the spirits for assistance in some
situation or an endeavour about to be undertaken.
The following is one of the songs, reproduced below
without alteration, composed on Tamana Island, in
the Republic of Kiribati, for the people about to
be resettled in the Phoenix Group, Republic of

"We are about to sail to Orona,
Goodbye O people of our homeland;
We have got our lands,
In the new Group of Islands.

We shall step ashore at Orona,
We shall dig our wells;
We shall build our dwelling houses,
So that we may live well.

Stand up, O people of the Gilberts,
Grasp your working tools;
We shall stand up and clear
the undergrowth and plant coconut trees.

We are happy, for we shall now live.
Do not forget us, O people of our homeland."

The interpretation of Micronesian music in
the form of dance movements results in a dance
form which is exciting, emotive and totally
absorbing. The dance forms emphasise the use
of mainly hands and arms to interpret the literal
meaning of the music. Traditional and authentic
dances on the main islands include stick dancing
integral to Pohnpei, Chuuk, Kosrae and Yap -
Federated States of Micronesia.

Standing and sitting dances are featured
throughout much of Micronesia, including the
Republic of the Marshall Islands, Republic of
Kiribati, Palau, Saipan, Guam, Kosrae, Chuuk
and Yap.The Yapese are particularly well known
for their wonderful skills in stick dancing which
is performed by men, women and children together,
while some other dance forms are performed
either by women or men and boys, although never
both together.

In some islands, such as Yap and the Republic
of Kiribati, there is also a concern for rank in
the placement of dancers, as well as the emphasis
on rehearsed execution of songs and movements.
The men participate in various dancing competitions,
which are segregated by caste or rank; the lower
castes have some distinct dances, such as a woman's
standing dance, but can only dance when authorized
by a person of a higher caste. Chuuk shares many
similar dance styles with Yap due to their similar
cultural heritage. Chuuk's most mysterious and
rarest dance is called the "Moonlight Dance". This
is one of the few times when both men and women
dance together. This particular dance can only
happen during a full moon with permission of the
village chief. Traditionally speaking, this was a way
for young males and females to get together. This
form of social engagement is also a feature of the
Trobriand islands (Melanesia) at the time of the
yam festival. In this respect, we can say that there
are certain similarities between many aspects of
the music and dance of the different ethnic groups
throughout the Pacific region while they still
remain distinctively Micronesian, Melanesian and

The musical instruments of Micronesia are few,
mainly due to the lack of material on the coral
atolls of Micronesia to produce the magnificent
wooden drums used throughout Melanesia and
Polynesia.The shell trumpet and nose flute are
the most common, though standard flutes and
jews harps are also found. A common idiophone
in Micronesia is a stick that is carried by men in
certain dances. The performers strike each
other's sticks in the course of the choreography.
Membranophones are not very common, though
the hourglass single-headed drum, like those
played in Papua New Guinea, is found as far
north as the Marshall Islands. In keeping with
the ecology of atoll life, the skins of these
drums are made from a shark's belly or parts
of the sting ray. Indeed, many atolls of the
Micronesian Pacific are without any indigenous
musical instruments whatsoever and, often
utilise many hands beating on mostly a wooden
box to accompany the music and dance.

The above brief outline comprises our first
discussion on the beautiful music and dance
of wonderful Micronesia. In our next edition,
it would be my great pleasure to discuss further
aspects of Micronesian music (and dance), as
well as examining, in broad detail, the beautiful
relationships between the music of Melanesia,
Micronesia and Polynesia. Pacific Island music
is something that is forever fascinating. Among
many other things, it is vibrant, melodious,
exciting, soothing, absorbing and constantly
evolving, while at the same time, remaining
authentic to its diverse and complex origins.
These are some of the issues I would like to
discuss and share with you a little further
in my next blog.



The Lamo Serai Boyz have recorded a
truly amazing collection of wonderful
electronic melodies based on traditional
and popular Micronesian songs from their
home island, Lamotrek, Yap, Federated
States of Micronesia, as well as other
islands in the Caroline archipelago. Their
music is available through Triton Films.
All the musical recordings were created
with state of the art Yamaha DSR 1000
keyboards and professionaly mixed with
vocals in the Lamotrekese language at
C-Star Studio in Yap, with post-production
at Triton Films.

No accoustic guitars were used. Such
artistry and talent, from a group of
island boys, growing up in a small
community, numbering no more than 300
persons, and more than 600 miles from
the nearest 120 volt outlet in Yap,
must be heard to be believed!

Anyone who has visited the restaurants
and bars of Micronesia will be instantly
transported back to the islands when
they hear the music of the Lamo Serai
Boyz. Their music encapsulates memories
of balmy nights and spectral lights
floating on a tropical pulse of swaying
bodies and lively conversation ... all
enveloped by wonderful melodies, both
lyrical and energetic. This CD is
certainly worth listening to for those
who enjoy that special authentic and
enchanting Micronesian music.
* * * * * * * * * *
Thank you all. For further information,
please check out the following four

I wish you all the very best. Have a great day!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Music of Oceania

This Newsletter will focus on issues
relating to Pacific Island music. It will
also embrace some of the exciting changes
taking place in the Internet Radio Revolution,
as well as updated information on our Pacific
Island Artists, Programming and Playlists.


In this edition of our newsletter, it is my
great pleasure to be able to discuss briefly,
with all of you, our most valued members,
the wonderful music of Oceania, in terms of
its origins, its similarities and those many
things that make Pacific Island music most
unique and beautiful.

The people of Oceania, in common with
all of mankind, have a common origin in
Africa. The migrations to the Pacific
region, however, came about through
different routes and over a long period
of many tens of thousands of years. The
first to arrive were the Melanesians who
are by far the oldest ethnic group in the
Pacific region, and who are the proud
owners of a very rich and diverse
cultural heritage.

The Melanesians were followed much
later by the Polynesians whose migratory
path took them through Taiwan, and along
the back of the Melanesian archipelago
of Papua and New Guinea, the Solomon
Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Fiji,
until they finally settled in Tahiti, Samoa,
Tonga, the Cook Islands, New Zealand,
Tuvalu, as well as the remote Easter Island.

The last to arrive were the Micronesians
whose journey took them much later through
the scattered islands of Micronesia, located
mainly to the north of the Melanesian Islands.
They settled on the main Micronesian islands
of Guam, Palau, Saipan, the Federated States
of Micronesia (Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei and
Yap), the Marshall Islands and Kiribati.

The traditional music of Melanesia, Polynesia
and Micronesia thus had very little in common
in terms of musical styles. What the music did
have in common was that, in the absence of
any written language, much of the music had
a religious significance and was originally
chanted to appease or call on the gods.
Some of the chants are also part of the oral
traditions of the people and these special
chants documented our history in a manner
that could be handed down from one
generation to the next.

In Melanesia, Christian missionaries disapproved
of Papuan traditional music throughout the colonial
period of the country's history. Even after
independence, the outside world knew little of the
diverse peoples' traditional music genres. The first
commercial release to see an international audience
didn't occur until 1991. After 1872, Christian hymns
were also introduced with the Gold Rush bringing an
influx of Australian miners who introduced the mouth

The best known traditional celebrations, which
include song, dance, feasting and gift-giving, is the
singsing. Vibrant and colourful costumes adorn the
dancers, while a leader and a chorus sing a staggered
approach to the same song. Since 1953, singsings
have become extremely competitive in nature, with
contests occurring in Port Moresby, Mt Hagan and

Television was introduced to the country in 1993,
and American popular music continued to affect
Papuan music following on from the diffusion of
radio since World War II. By the end of the 1970s,
a local recording industry had appeared, and artists
like George Telek, began to successfully integrate
native and Western styles like rock and jazz.
Indeed, the music of George Telek is proudly
featured on Pacific Music Radio, Pacific Islands
Radio and Radio Melanesia.

The traditional Melanesian music of the Solomon
Islands includes both solo and group vocals, as
well as slit drums and panpipe ensembles. Panpipe
orchestras, which are well-known in Malaita and
Guadalcanal use up to ten performers with
different instruments, each with unique tunings.

In the 1920s, Bamboo music gained a following in
several Melanesian countries. Bamboo music was
made by hitting open-ended bamboo tubes of
varying sizes, originally with coconut husks.
After American soldiers brought their sandals to
the Solomon Islands, these replaced coconut husks
by the early 1960s, just as the music began
spreading to Papua New Guinea.

Modern Solomon Islander popular music includes
various kinds of rock and reggae, as well as a
distinctive original form of music known as island
music which features a guitar and ukulele ensemble
format influenced by Polynesian and Christian music.

The traditional music of Vanuatu featured instruments
such as the tamtam drum, which is intricately carved
from a log, as well as panpipes, conch shells and
gongs.The music industry of Vanuatu has grown
rapidly since the 1990s.The early part of that
decade saw bands forging a distinctly Vanuatuan
modern musical identity, with artists such as the
young talented and gifted artist, Vanessa Quai,
following in their footsteps.

In New Caledonia, music is a fundamental
element of every traditional ceremony, and
the range of instruments includes conch shells,
rhythm instruments and bamboo flutes. The
Caldoches, or white New Caledonians, are
mostly descended from French convicts and
have forged their own culture, more akin to
that of rural Australians or rural Americans
than the metropolitan French. Among the
Kanaks, dance has developed into a high
art form. The traditional pilou dance tells
the stories of births, marriages, cyclones
or preparations for battle, although colonial
authorities banned pilous in 1951 for the
high-energy and trance-like state they
induced in the dancers.

Throughout Polynesia, song and dance are
integral parts of the same cultural elements.
The dance is used to illustrate the lyrics by
moving the hands or arms with some dances
being performed while the dancers are seated.
Traditionally, dance moves do not illustrate the
song's narrative, but rather draw attention to
specific words and themes; in modern times,
however, dances are more often explicitly
narrative in their focus. There are also
traditional dances performed without lyrics,
to the accompaniment of percussive music.

Within songs, the lyrics are by far more
important than the melodic accompaniment,
with elements such as rhythm, melody and
harmony being traditionally viewed as
accompaniment to the primary focus, the
lyrics, serving to embellish, illustrate
and decorate the words.

The most important instrument is the voice,
though multiple varieties of slit drums and conch
shells are also popular; the human body is used
as an instrument, with clapping and knee-slapping
used to accompany songs and dances. Other
instruments include the pandanus, a sitting mat that
is also used as a percussion instrument, nose flutes
and derivatives of Portuguese guitars like the
ukulele and slack-key guitar.

Throughout Oceania, the missionaries did all
they could to wipe out traditional Polynesian
culture by levelling temples, destroying carvings,
and banning tattoos, and that heady, erotic
dancing that Bougainville told Europe about.
The missionaries sought to make the Polynesians
follow the teachings of the Good Book and their
own autocratic commandments, but fortunately
some of the traditional ways, including our
traditional music, survived. Recently there's been
a strong push to revive old ways and rediscover
traditional arts.

Traditional musical instruments include pahu and
toere drums and the nose flute called a vivo.
Guitars and ukuleles made their way into Polynesia
and the locals developed a unique song style that
owes much to country and western music in form
but has a distinctive South Pacific island flavour.
Traditional dance, based on the traditional music,
has also slowly made its way back into Polynesian

In common with the music of Melanesia and
Polynesia, Micronesian music is influential to those
living in the Micronesian Islands. The traditional
music is highly spiritual and is based around the
ancient Micronesian mythology. The music can
call upon one of the gods or spirits for a blessing
or help in a task to be undertaken. The music of
Micronesia covers a range of styles from
traditional songs, handed down through generations,
to contemporary music, much of which comprises
contemporary interpretations of the traditional
spiritual music.

Micronesian traditional music, like much Polynesian
music, is primarily vocal-based. In many cases, this
results from the lack of suitable material on the many
low-lying coral atolls of Micronesia to construct the
kind of drums and other percussion instruments
available to the Melanesians and many of the

Music is an integral part of life on the islands of
the Pacific. Indeed, the songs and dances are woven
into the very fabric of everyday life. Life, love,
work, play, the ocean, the gods, the earth itself;
they all flow through the music of the Pacific Islands,
as surely as the sand erodes into the sea. Pacific
Island music is truly the music of the world and is
proudly featured on our four Pacific Islands Radio

Thank you so much everybody for your continual
support, and I do hope that you enjoy our News
and Views in this special edition of our Newsletter.
* * * * * * * * * *
For further information, please check out the
following four Domains:

Thank you and enjoy your day.

Pacific Islands Radio - The Music of Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia

This Blog is a listening guide to the many
listeners of our four Internet Pacific Islands
Radio Stations.

The Blog will focus on issues relating to
Pacific Island music. It will also embrace
some of the exciting changes taking place
in the Internet Radio Revolution,as well as
updated information on our Pacific
Island Artists, Programming and Playlists.


In the last few blogs, it has been my great
pleasure to be able to present an outline of
the traditional and contemporary music of
Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia. This
was followed by a similar general overview
of Pacific Island music in the context of
the origins, mythology and external
influences on the music and people of the
Pacific Islands.

In this edition, I would like to share with
you some thoughts on Pacific Island music and
its relevance in the global context of popular
music. Certainly, as a musical genre, Pacific
Island music is distinctive, exciting and
enthralling - it displays a depth of understanding
of human experiences that can touch the very
heart and soul of the listener. Despite all this,
Pacific Island music has not yet achieved the
support, and the success it fully deserves on
the international music scene. Certainly, many
of our excellent artists have achieved superstar
status in their own countries and in the Pacific
region, although, as yet, have not been able to
translate this success onto a global environment.

Indeed, the necessary ingredients for
international success are all present - in the
form of world quality recording studios, top
class musicians, and singers with amazing talents,
along with a loyal and appreciative local support
base. One would perhaps have to ask what needs
to be done in order for these talented people to
achieve international acclaim (as per one of
the beautiful letters below that I have recently
received from Japan by a talented artist from
New Zealand).

The late great Hawaiian musician, Israel
Kamakawiwo Ole' (Bruddah Iz), was one of
those who made the statement that, as island
people, we live in both worlds - the traditional
world of our island people, and the western
world that we are, of necessity, part of. In
this respect, being able to reconcile the often
conflicting demands of our traditional lifestyle,
and western lifestyle, is something that is very
apparent in island life, and thus is a very
important factor in the longer term wider
success of Pacific Island music.

In some cases, it is perhaps a sad reality that,
some of our talented artists, are unable to
reconcile our traditional values with western
values, which can easily swamp those of our
traditional society. Yet, one would have to
suspect that ultimate success as a musical
artist depends on a successful fusion of our
traditional music with the musical expectations
of a global audience.

Out of all our musical groups, we are very
proud to be able to say that Te Vaka has
successfully been able to achieve international
acclaim and recognition and, in many respects,
can be considered a role model for any group
wishing to achieve and enjoy international
success. A performance by Te Vaka is exciting
and completely enthralling - a visual and musical
experience that always stays in the mind of the
audience. Te Vaka, as an accomplished group
of musicians and performers, has been able
to combine exciting dance and vibrant music as
they tell the stories of the mythology and the
many trials and tribulations of our Pacific Island

With most of Te Vaka's songs being presented
in their native language, western audiences, in
the main, do not understand the lyrics, however,
the message is always clear. With a strong and
resonant musical beat, combined with exciting
dance and theatre, the audience is left in no doubt
as to the underlying message of the performance.

As a solo artist, teenage artist, Vanessa Quai, from
the Pacific nation of Vanuatu, is certainly making
a big impression on the musical scene, both in the
Pacific region, as well as internationally. Indeed
Vanessa's achievement in winning the first prize in
the RTV Golden Stag International Music Festival
in Brasov, Romania, on the 23rd September 2005,
strongly suggests that Vanessa has the potential of
being a major international star of the future. With
the support of her wonderful family, including her
father/manager, Nigel Quai, as well as her frequent
musical collaboration with her talented Melanesian
fellow artist, Edou, (our Feature Artist in our
March 2006 edition of this Pacific Island Music
Newsletter), Vanessa Quai, the talented young
lady from Vanuatu, definitely has a very bright
and assured musical future.

I am very pleased to be able to say that our
Pacific Islands Radio is reaching out to a vast
worldwide audience and has generated great
interest, along with a great many requests
from those wonderful people who would like
to purchase our beautiful Pacific Island music.

In addition, there has been many most
welcome e-mails from talented artists from
the Pacific Islands (and worldwide), who
would greatly appreciate the opportunity of
having their music featured on Pacific Islands
Radio. Let me humbly say that this is, indeed,
a great honour coming from such gifted artists.
I have included one such beautiful letter,
below, from an artist who certainly deserves
our assistance and support.

Once again, may I ask you, our valued members,
to assist in whatever way we can to help promote
another of our talented artists. Thank you.

I have been listening to your radio station on-line
from Japan. I am a New Zealander (Maori) but
Tokyo-based musician...I play with all Japanese
musicians and we play regularly around Japan.
We have just finished a 16 date tour of New
Zealand and our 2nd album 'Papatu Road' will
be available in stores in Japan from May 10th.
The album has received critical acclaim from
reviewers back in New Zealand. I belong to a
small independent record label in Japan
called 'Suzuki Records'. They do my promotion
inside Japan, but nothing outside and, because
I am so desperate to reach the wider community,
I am researching avenues myself.

I actually had an interview on ABC Radio
Australia last month with Heather Javis on
'In the Loop'

I have been exploring Polynesian and Asian
influences through music for several years
now. Here is some information on me:

I would greatly appreciate any support you can
offer. Should you require any further information
i.e previous radio interviews, or MP3's or an album,
please don't hesitate to contact me directly.
E noho ra, Ben"

Finally, I would very much like to thank you,
our valued members, along with our worldwide
listeners, for the incredible and much
appreciated increase in the number of listening
hours and presets on all our four Pacific Islands
Radio Stations. In particular, the support for
our new Pacific Islands Radio Station - Radio
Melanesia - has been just great and, once
again, very much appreciated!
Keep on listening everybody and enjoy the
music! Thank you so very much!

By the way, I should mention also that our
Playlists now include the beautiful tracks
from Edou's latest exciting album, along with
some haunting, beautiful and melodious tracks
from Laisa Vulakoro, our Feature Artist this
month! Enjoy!
(See below under: Feature Artist).
* * * * * * * * * *


Pacific Islands Radio is very pleased
to be able to advise that Pacific
Islands Radio 28K has now been converted
to "RADIO MELANESIA" - to progressively
highlight the vibrant and exciting music
of Melanesia, along with a selection of
music from Polynesia and Micronesia.


I am very pleased to be able to say that,
in addition to our main Oceania Guest Book,
additional Forums have been introduced to
all Web sites of the main islands and islets
of the Pacific, as well as personalities,
along with our Pacific Islands Radio Web sites:

As you are no doubt aware, these Forums
have been most beneficial in bringing together
many people with an interest in and a love of
the beautiful and enchanting music of the
Pacific Islands. You are cordially invited to
share your valuable and important thoughts
and opinions with us all.

Recent additions also include the Web
sites for Hawaii, Tahiti, Samoa, Republic
of Nauru, Republic of the Marshall Islands,
Tonga, Tokelau, Easter Island, New
Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji, Papua New
Guinea, Cook Islands and Pitcairn Island,
Niue, as well as our Oceania Postcards
and Picture Galleries - and many more!
Thank you.


I would like to mention, in response
to some of the e-mails and messages that I
have received, from those wonderful people
who would like to listen to our beautiful
Pacific Island music, but unfortunately,
are unable to actually listen to the music.

Basically, it is quite easy to access and
enjoy Pacific Islands Radio (our four
Pacific Islands Radio Stations). Once
you have accessed the page, it is most
necessary to firstly log on, in order to
be able to listen to the music. The process
of being able to log on can be achieved
by providing your username and password
before clicking on the yellow 'Play'
button provided on the centre of the page.
Good Luck and Enjoy!

In addition, the many listeners who would
like to purchase the music played on our
four Pacific Islands Radio Stations, in CD
format, can obtain details of recommended
suppliers by clicking on Artists' Profiles
on Pacific Islands Radio Home Page:

Pacific Islands Radio continues to offer a
range of broadcasting formats in order to
allow a wide range of listeners to enjoy
our beautiful island music.


Our four Pacific Islands Radio Stations
play the enchanting music of the Pacific
Islands 24 hours daily.

Pacific Music Radio (mp3PRO)

Pacific Islands Radio

Radio Melanesia

Micronesia Music Radio



Laisa Vulakoro, the Vude Queen, is one
of the most popular singers of all time in Fiji.
Vude, pronounced `vu-n-day' is the music
beat that is unique to Fiji - a combination of
Disco, Rock, Country and Island Style. The
beat derives from the traditional `Meke' or
dance sound.

Laisa has been singing for almost 20 years and,
with 16 published albums to her name has written
and arranged most of her songs. Born on the
remote island of Yacata in Fiji with a population
of only 150, no running water or electricity, she is
the youngest girl of a family of 8 girls and 6 boys.

Her late father, Delai, was a choir-master and lay
preacher of their church. Everyone in the family
sang in the church. Her late father, and a few of
her brothers, are also song-writers. Her band in
Fiji includes mainly family members.

Laisa is currently a Director of the Fiji Performing
Rights Association, which is a non-profit
organization that protects the rights of composers
in Fiji. She has toured most of the Pacific Islands,
including Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, New
Caledonia, Cook Islands, Marshall Islands,
Hawaii and the Solomon Islands. She has also
toured North America, Australia, New Zealand
and London. She has performed in most of the
top Resorts in Fiji and for many years was the
resident singer at the Regent of Fiji and the
Sheraton Fiji Resort.

Laisa is a Charity Worker who has donated her
time and talent towards helping underprivileged
women and children and is a `Champion' of
promoting young talent, especially with the Blind
School, Hilton Special School and various
orphanages around Fiji.

In recognition of her tireless contribution to
charity, she was awarded a Fiji Independence
Medal in 1996, given only to outstanding Fiji
Citizens and, in 2003, the French Government
awarded her the title of Chevallier of Fine Art
and Literature.

Laisa was named by a well-known columnist
in Fiji as "Fiji's Living National Treasure" in
recognition of her ability to bring people from
all races and diverse backgrounds together
through her music.

Her versatility and talent enables her to
sing many styles of music and her stage
presence makes her the complete entertainer.

* * * * * * * * * *
For further information please check out the
following four Domains:

That's all for now and thank you. Have a great day!

Aboriginal And Melanesian Music

This Blog is a listening guide to the many
listeners of our four Internet Pacific Islands
Radio Stations:

The Blog will focus on issues relating to
Pacific Island music. It will also embrace
some of the exciting changes taking place in
the Internet Radio Revolution, as well as
updated information on our Pacific
Island Artists, Programming and Playlists.


In this edition of our Pacific Islands Radio
Newsletter (Island Music), it is my great
pleasure to be able to focus on some aspects
of the traditional music of Melanesia and to
introduce some exciting Melanesian artists
who have now been incorporated into our
Playlists. In subsequent editions, it is my
intention to focus on aspects of Polynesian
music and musicians, followed by music
and musicians from Micronesia.

In this respect, I would like to share with
you some thoughts on the music of the
Australian Aborigines and Torres Strait
Islanders. Their music is very much part
of the social fabric of their life, their
history and their culture.It has a haunting
and mysterious quality that draws the listener
into the history, culture and the ancient
dreamtime of the Aboriginal people.

Among the earliest inhabitants of the
Oceania region, it is generally accepted
that the indigenous Australians - the
Aboriginal people - entered Australia
from the Indo-Malaysian mainland via
New Guinea, taking advantage of the
land bridges which stretched most of
the way through Asia. These land bridges
were exposed during the ice ages, the
Pleistocene epoch, when water levels
dropped hundreds of metres. New
Guinea and Cape York Peninsula were
once joined by the Sahul Shelf.

The oldest settlement so far recorded
in Australia is radiocarbon-dated to
about 50,000 years ago. This settlement
around Lake Mungo is where humans
camped around inland lake shores and
dined on fish, shellfish, emu eggs, small
marsupials and - almost certainly - a range
of wild seeds, roots and fruits. The first
human remains found at Lake Mungo are
all homo sapiens - the modern human type
to which present-day black and white
Australians all belong. More than this, the
remains are among the oldest of this type
in the world.

The first archaeological discovery at Mungo,
in 1969, was a skeleton of a female who
had been cremated and placed in a small pit.
This cremation is dated to about 24,000 B.C.
Other burials in the Mungo region are of bodies
laid out flat and not burned, but all have some
kind of goods with them in the grave. These
goods include stone tools, shells and animal
seeds. At this time, we do not know the beliefs
of the mourners who made these offerings,
however, their presence most probably recorded
a complex set of beliefs about the spiritual
world. It seems likely that aspects of the
"Dreaming", the all-encompassing historical and
cosmological structure that is a cornerstone of
modern aboriginal life, were already present all
those years ago.

Although there were variations in the customs
and skills of the hundreds of different
Aboriginal tribes across the vast continent
of Australia, they all lived in equally close
community with their environment. The Dreamtime,
the Aborigine's spiritual guide, encouraged their
intimate involvement with the landscape, whether
their home was on the lush coastal plains or in
the harsh interior. They knew what to eat, how
to prepare it, where and when to find it and,
most important, how to protect their resources
for the future. What the elders knew about
survival, they passed on by example, legend
and ritual. Along with this, there were songs
for every occasion - hunting songs, funeral
songs, gossip songs and songs of ancestors,
landscapes, animals, seasons, myths and
Dreamtime legends.


Indigenous Australian music, in this context,
is taken to include the music of the Australian
Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, who
are collectively referred to as indigenous
Australians. Music has formed an integral
part of the social, cultural and ceremonial
observances of Australian Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander peoples, down through
the millennia of their individual and
collective histories to the present day.

Aboriginal people throughout most of Australia
believe that in the beginning of time, in the
Dreaming, there were no visible landmarks; the
world was flat. As time progressed, creatures
emerged from the ground and had the power to
change at will from their animal to their human

The kangaroo ancestor may now be described, in
songs particularly, as the kangaroo; the form of his
life essence is a matter of little consequence. These
original ancestral beings created all the features of
the landscape in the area in which their lives were
spent, and also populated the entire region concerned.
By their actions, they laid down the rules of conduct
for all their offspring.

Throughout their lives on earth, they left inseminating
powers in the soil; they also created, and taught to
others, many songs including those recounting the
history of their own lives, songs for healing the
wounded and the sick, injuring the enemy, including
rain, arresting the flood, or causing the wind to turn

The inseminating powers left by these ancestors
are doubly important to the present people:
firstly, because the propagation of their group
is dependent on this power to create human
offspring in the likeliness of the human elements
of the ancestor; secondly, because the food
source of the group is dependent on this power
of each ancestor to ensure the plentiful supply
of recreated forms of the animal or plant element
of the ancestor's being.

These powers become most accessible to the
present inhabitants of the area on those
occasions when the spirit of a particular
ancestor is drawn towards his own identification
marks of the song, acts and designs which he
originally created and which have been
meticulously preserved ever since.


A song is sung as a series comprising
many short verses, each of which tells
about a particular event or place associated
with the ancestor; or the performance may be
a full ceremonial one which includes portrayal
of relevant events in the performance of
dances accompanied by the singing of the
appropriate verses.

The song associated with any one totemic "line"
will have the one melodic form throughout. This
means, in the case of very long "lines" of songs,
where the ancestor is reputed to have crossed
thousands of miles of territory, that the
characteristic melodic form will be found in
areas with different languages and musical

Because of the latter differences, an outside
observer may well fail to recognise extreme
sections of the one song-line as conforming
to the same musical pattern, but that they
do conform has been repeatedly stressed by
performers and shown by a number of detailed
analyses. The concept differs from our
experience of melodic sameness; it consists
of repetitions of sections of melody for a
set proportion of the time the total verse
takes to perform.

Because this technique allows flexibility in
those areas of musical expression which tend
to change from one tribe to another, the basic
information can be kept intact even though
the total history may be retained, section by
section, in many different tribal areas.

This means that, even when a visitor from afar
is unable to understand the language that the
locals are using in a song, he can determine,
from the musical structure, to which totemic
line the song belongs.

And, because his own totemic song has been
very strong conditioning agent in the total
processes of his education to adult status in
the community, the recognition of his own song
in another area will have very deep significance.
These history songs link the time long past with
the present; the singer is part of a continuum;
he is reliving events of another era, and is yet
part of them.


The Australian Aboriginal people developed a
number of rare, unique and interesting musical
instruments. These include the didgeridoo, the
bullroarer, and the gum-leaf. Most well known
is the didgeridoo, a simple wooden tube blown
with the lips like a trumpet, which gains its
sonic flexibility from controllable resonances
of the player's vocal tract. The bull-roarer
is a simple wooden slat whirled in a circle on
the end of a cord so that it rotates about its
axis and produces a pulsating low-pitched roar.
The gum-leaf, as the name suggests, is a tree
leaf, held against the lips and blown so as to
act as a vibrating valve with "blown-open"
configuration. Originally intended to imitate
bird-calls, the gum-leaf can also be used as
a musical instrument.

The didgeridoo originated in Arnhem Land on
the northern coastline of central Australia,
and has some similarity to bamboo trumpets and
even bronze horns developed in other cultures,
though it pre-dates most of these by many
millennia. The characteristic feature is that
the didgeridoo, which is a slightly flaring
wooden tube about 1.5 metres in length, is
simply hollowed out by natural termites
("white ants") from the trunk of one of the
small trees of the region. After cutting down,
the instrument is cleaned out with a stick,
the outside refined by scraping and then
painted with traditional designs, and the
blowing end smoothed by adding a rim of

The predominant sound of the didgeridoo is a
low-pitched drone with frequency around 70Hz,
but depending significantly upon the length of the
instrument and the flare of its bore. In traditional
use, the didgeridoo, with clap-sticks for emphasis,
accompanies songs or illustrates traditional stories
about ancestors and animals Recently, however,
its use has spread into the popular music domain
and has had world-wide influence.

The bullroarer consists of a simple wooden slat,
30 to 40cm in length and 5 to 7cm wide that is
whirled around in a circle on the end of a length
of cord. The slat rotates under the influence of
aerodynamic forces and generates a pulsating
sound with a frequency typically around 80Hz.
This sound is an important feature of Aboriginal
initiation ceremonies. The instrument itself is
by no means unique to Australia, as similar
instruments have been used by populations as
diverse as those of ancient Egypt and Northern

The gumleaf is altogether more primitive as a
musical instrument, since it consists simply
of a leaf from one of the various species of
Eucalypt trees growing throughout Australia,
which held against the lips using the fingers
of both hands. It does, however, have a long
tradition and culture. Although it takes a good
deal of trial and error for a beginner to even
produce a sound from a gumleaf, a skilled
player can control the pitch with good accuracy
over a range of more than an octave and play
simple tunes with ease.

As in most cultures, the Aborigines also used
percussive instruments in their ceremonies.
Often these were simply two boomerangs
clashed together, but they also made special
shaped sticks for this purpose. Because the
wood used is a fine-grained hardwood, the
clapsticks are physically long-lasting and
produce a sharp and well defined sound.

In their usual form, these sticks are about
200mm in length and 20mm in diameter and
are shaped to a long point at each end. One
stick is held in each hand and they are struck
together at about the mid-point of each. The
pointed ends ensure that the fundamental
transverse vibration has a high frequency,
so that the percussive effect stands out
well above the low-pitched drone of the

The musical instruments of the Australian
Aboriginal people have come into world
prominence because of the popularity of
the didgeridoo, both as a tourist item and
as a musical instrument. It is only recently
that we have begun to have an appreciation
of the acoustical subtleties associated with
performance on this and the other ancient
instruments of the Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Island people.

By the way, I am very pleased to be able
to say that our Playlists now include
beautiful tracks from Yothu Yindi, Becim,
Wasi Ka Nanara, Ok! Ryos, along with
Elisa and Julie.



Originally from the Loyalty Province of
New Caledonia, Ok! Ryos are certainly
one of the most talented and the most prolific
bands in the country. Their songs, mainly
sung in "Nengone" language, are true jewels
of melodies and vocal harmonies. Traditional
without being folkloric, contemporary without
losing its soul, the musical cocktail of Ok!
Ryos charms our ears and our senses, bringing
us, for a moment, to the lagoons and atolls of
the South Pacific.


The first album from the backup singers from
the group "Ok! Ryos." Elisa (25 years old)
and Julie (21 years old) momentarily left their
older brother (Édouard Wamejo) to record
this album. "Ciroi," meaning life, is sung in
French and in Nengone (the language of Maré,
the home island of the girls in New Caledonia).
All the pieces, except one written by their
brother, were written and composed by Julie
and Elisa.
"This is an album from and for girls that
talks about life, love, peace, and acts as
an encouraging message." However, boys also
are invited to listen to this album that
combines two young voices in magnificent


The music of Wasi Ka Nanara is indigenous
to the Solomon Islands, especially on the
island of Malaita. One never sees women in
the group, for the music and dance is
exclusively the business of men. The musicians
make all their instruments themselves out of
bamboo. One particular instrument connects
many pan pipes together to form a kind of
collar which the players manipulate with a
turn of the neck.

The music of the group comes from the first
century of their era, a time of the Lapita
culture, enriched later with contacts with
Polynesia, the Aborigines of Austrailia and
other islands of Melanesia.


From the South Pacific Island of New Caledonia,
Becim presents a collection of reggae and
pop-influenced island music. Mixed with Latin
percussion and beautiful vocal harmonies, Becim
gives an unexpected look at Pacific Island music.



Yothu Yindi have their origins in the Yolngu
homelands of the Aboriginal people Arnhem
Land, on the north-east coast of Australia's
Northern Territory. This is an area that the
Yolngu have occupied and protected since
their people first arrived on the vast Australian
continent perhaps 40,000 years or more ago.

The Yolngu members of the band celebrate
their deep spiritual connections with the land,
connections that are kept alive through song,
dance and ceremony. These are reflected in
the band's recordings and live performances
which are essentially a pleasing fusion of their
traditional music and dance with contemporary
western music.

The name of the band translates as "mother
and child", and is essentially a kinship term
used by the Yolngu people of the Northern
Territory's Arnhem Land. The group's central
figure Mandawuy Yunupingu and clansman
Witiyana Marika gathered other aboriginal
musicians and dancers to form Yothu Yindi,
a troupe initially created to perform at cultural
events both in Australia and internationally.

Yothu Yindi's first album, 'Homeland Movement'
comprised politicized rock on one side. The
other side of the album concentrated on
traditionally based songs like 'Djapana' (Sunset
Dreaming), written by former teacher Mandawuy
Yunupingu.Mandawuy's family has a long and
proud tradition in the struggle for aboriginal
land rights. Mandawuy Yunupingu was named 1992
Australian of The Year.

Yothu Yindi are a unique group that will always be
Yothu Yindi. No matter how you combine Yolgnu
culture in pop, rock or dance music what counts are
the lyrics and the unique access to 40,000 years of
Aboriginal history and tradition. This is what makes
the groups contribution to popular music culture
such a valuable one.
* * * * * * * * * *
For further information, please check out the
following four Domains:

Thank you everybody. I wish you all a great day!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Our Pacific Ocean - About Rubbish

Welcome everybody to Jane's blog where you are invited to share your thoughts and experiences about our beautiful Pacific Ocean. I do not want to start out on a negative note, however, I would like to thank those people who have written in expressing concern about the amount of litter that they have encountered in various parts of the Pacific.These comments are of particular concern in the light of recent reports describing the Pacific Ocean as the world's largest rubbish dump - a vast area of floating plastic debris and other flotsam drifting in the northern Pacific Ocean, held there by swirling ocean currents.

Often referred to as the great Pacific garbage patch, it is now alarming some with its ever-growing size and possible impact on human health.The "patch" is, in fact, two huge linked areas of circulating rubbish, stretching from about 500 nautical miles off the coast of California, across the northern Pacific to near the coast of Japan. Almost twice the size as continental United States, the islands of Hawaii are placed almost in the middle, so piles of plastic are regularly washed up on some beaches there. The concentration of floating plastic debris just beneath the ocean's surface is the product of underwater currents, which conspire to bring together all the junk - an estimated 100 million tonnes of plastic - that accumulates in the Pacific Ocean. Studies have indicated that about 20 per cent of the junk is thought to come from marine craft, while the rest originates from countries around the Pacific like Mexico, Australia and China. The waste forms in what are called tropical gyres - areas where the oceans slowly circulate due to extreme high pressure systems and where there is little wind. Historically, flotsam in the gyres has biodegraded..But modern plastics do not break down like other oceanic debris, meaning objects half a century old have been found in the North Pacific Gyre. Rather the plastic slowly photodegrades, becoming brittle and disintegrating into smaller and smaller pieces which enter the food chain and end up in the stomachs of birds and other animals. This is certainly a very sorry state of affairs as the small plastic particles acted like a sponge to trap many dangerous man-made chemicals that found their way into the ocean, like hydrocarbons and DDT. Eventually what goes into the ocean goes into the animals and eventually enters the human food chain exposing people worldwide to possible serious longer term health problems. Indeed syringes, cigarette lighters and tooth brushes from the "patch" have been found inside the carcases of sea birds.

The health of our planet depends upon many factors including the health of our vast Pacific Ocean. Certainly, the health of this beautiful Ocean cannot be improved if it continues to be used as nothing more than a convenient garbage dump.

You are invited to visit Jane Resture's Oceania Blog at:

For further infomation, you are also invited to check out the following Domains:

Traditional Music Of Polynesia

Welcome Everybody!

It will be my great pleasure to be able to discuss,
at least in a much broader outline, a little more
about the beautiful traditional music of Polynesia.
This will be in the context of the origins and the
early migration of the Polynesian people. The word
"Polynesia" means "many islands" - it comes from
the Greek words 'poly' which means many and
'nesos' which means "island".

Polynesia is a group of island chains spread
across much of the Pacific Ocean, and includes
many countries and territories. Internationally,
Polynesian music is mostly associated with
twinkling guitars and grass skirts, Hawaiian hula
and other tourist-friendly forms of music. While
these elements are justifiably a part of Polynesian
history and culture, there is actually a wide variety
of music made in the far-flung reaches of Polynesia.

Interestingly, recent studies of DNA in Taiwan has
provided some interesting conclusions about the
origins of the Polynesian and Melanesian people.

Certainly, linguistic studies have pointed to
the fact that the Polynesians, undoubtedly the
greatest seafarers in history, have their
origins in Taiwan.

Of the 23 million people in Taiwan, only
400,000 are descendants from the original
inhabitants. These people originally spoke
a language belonging to the Austronesian
group which is unrelated to Chinese but
includes the Polynesian tongues.

DNA studies of the original group found
three mutations shared by Taiwanese,
Polynesians and Melanesians, who also
speak Austronesian. These mutations are
not found in other Asians and hence suggest
that the Polynesians and Melanesians have
their origins in the original inhabitants
of Taiwan.

Certainly, human occupation of Oceania -
those vast reaches of the Pacific encompassing
Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia - began
on Papua and Papua New Guinea. It is on here
that archaeologists have dug primitive stone
tools and charcoal more than 25,000 years old
from camp sites used during the last Ice Age,
when sea levels were lower and the distances
between Australia, Papua New Guinea and the
other Indonesian islands were much less.

When melting ice raised the level of the
ocean and increased distances between land
falls, Papua New Guinea and its dark-skinned
inhabitants - Melanesians - became more
isolated until the coming of the brown-skinned
people - out of island Asia - Indonesia, the
Philippines and Taiwan.

In their outrigger and double canoes with sails
of plaited leaves, the latter reached New Guinea
and nearby islands about 4,500 years ago, but
did not dislodge the Melanesians they found
already living there. Among these seafarers were
the ancestors of the Polynesians. Using Fiji as
a staging area, some eventually sailed on to
uninhabited Tonga and Samoa.

Indeed, to have developed the physical types,
language, and culture that the Polynesians share
in common, these Polynesian forebears must
have been isolated for a time in a home group
of islands. A chain of archaeological discoveries
leads us to believe that this isolation started
in the islands of Tonga and Samoa roughly 3,000
years ago. Radiocarbon of Lapita pottery has
suggested that Tonga is the longest-inhabited
island group in Polynesia, with radiocarbon
dates as early as 1140 B.C. Thus we conclude
that Tonga's first settlers, the people who made
Lapita ware, were the first true Polynesians.

Language ties indicate that this migration
continued via Samoa eastward to the
Marquesas, where the oldest sites in Eastern
Polynesia have been found. Far to the
southeast of the Marquesas lies evidence of
a truly remarkable feat - a voyage to Easter
Island, some 2,400 miles away, in the face
of prevailing winds and currents. Polynesia's
easternmost outpost, Easter Island, is not
only the most isolated inhabited island in the
Pacific, but it is only 15 miles long.

The sites on Easter Island show clear evidence
when considered in conjunction with the
archaeology and languages of the Society and
Marquesas Islands indicate strongly that the
pre-historic culture of Easter Island could
have evolved from a single landing of
Polynesians from a Marquesan island, fully
equipped to colonise an uninhabited volcanic
island. Their success in making this windswept
sixty-four square miles, without an edible native
plant, not only habitable but also the seat of
remarkable cultural achievements, is testimony
to the genius of these Polynesian settlers.

A study of excavated adzes, fish hooks,
ornaments and other artefacts indicates that
Tahiti and the other Society Islands must
have been settled soon after the Marquesas.
Present information indicates that Hawaii and
New Zealand were settled after A.D. 500.
Radiocarbon techniques permit us to assign
tentative dates to this entire Pacific migration:
entry into West Polynesia about 1000 B.C.,
reaching East Polynesia about the time of
Christ completing the occupation by

In central and eastern Pacific is a large triangular
area referred to as the Polynesian Triangle.
The triangle is formed by a line drawn from Hawaii
to new Zealand, bending westward to include the
Ellice Islands (Tuvalu) and passing between Fiji
and Tonga. This north to south forms the base.
Easter Island is the apex, located 4,000 miles to
the east. The Marquesas lie almost to the center
of the eastern line; from Easter in the south to
Hawaii in the north. Samoa, Tonga, Tahiti and
Cook islands are surrounded by the triangle.
New Zealand, the farthest south group of
Polynesian Islands.

It was in the Polynesian Triangle that the unique
and beautiful Polynesian culture evolved over
hundreds and, indeed, thousands of years. The
striking unity of the languages spoken in these
different islands, as well as sufficient similarities
in their arts, culture, custom and tradition allow
the world scientists and anthropologists to agree
that the Polynesians are a racial unit. It is
also here that the beautiful traditional music of
Polynesia has its origins.

The early music of Polynesia was composed
of rhythm instruments and vocals; they
comprise mainly chants without any harmonic
structure and without any oriental or occidental
influence. This early music was very fundamental
although some islands did use flutes and drums
to accompany their singing.

As there was no written language to record the
history of the Pacific Islands, it was our beautiful
island music that provided one essential record
of our heritage and this was passed from generation
to generation. Besides the tales of migration and
wars, the daily life of our Pacific Island people
was chronicled in our music. Throughout most of
Polynesia, contemporary music has been influenced
by outside influences. The only major stronghold to
retain traditional culture without much evolution
has been Tonga, which has pursued a relatively
isolationist history.

Throughout Tonga, traditional music has been
preserved in the set pieces performed at royal
and noble weddings and funerals, as well as in
the song sung during the traditional ceremony
of apology, the 'lou-ifi'.

Radio Tonga begins each day's broadcast with
a recording by a nobleman and celebrated virtuoso
of the nose flute which is otherwise rarely heard.
Some ancient dances such as the ula are still
performed. The 'lali' or slit-gong, is still in use --
as a substitute for a church bell by congregations
that cannot afford a bell.

Generally throughout Polynesia, the lyrics of
traditional songs are by far more important
than the melodic accompaniment, as it is the
lyrics that contain the elements of our cultural
heritage that are being preserved such as the
stories of the people, genealogies, histories
and migrations. Elements like rhythm melody,
harmony and dance are traditionally viewed
as accompaniment to the primary focus, the
lyrics, serving to embellish, illustrate and
decorate the words.

It is important to remember, however, that song
and dance are integral parts of the same cultural
elements throughout Polynesia. In action songs,
dance is used to illustrate the lyrics by moving
the hands or arms; some dances are performed seated.
Traditionally, dance moves do not illustrate the
song's narrative, but rather draw attention to
specific words and themes; in modern times,
however, dances are more often explicitly narrative
in their focus. There are also traditional dances
performed without lyrics, to the accompaniment
of percussive music.

The most important instrument is the voice, though
multiple varieties of slit drums and conch shells are
also popular; the human body is used as an instrument,
with clapping and knee-slapping used accompany songs
and dances. Other instruments include the pandanus,
a sitting mat that is also used as a percussion
instrument, nose flutes and, later, derivatives of
Portuguese guitars such as the ukulele and slack-key

In the 1790s, Christian missionaries arrived in
Polynesia for the first time. Hymns and other forms
of Christian music were instituted, and native musical
genres were largely driven underground and prohibited.
Soon, traditional polyphonic singing was merged with
Christian styles and church singing became an important
part of Polynesian culture across the Pacific.

The music of Polynesian is the most well known music
from Oceania. It includes everything from the Hawaiian
hula and steel-guitar traditions to joyful, polyphonic
choral music of Tahiti. Though traditional instruments
such as slit-gongs and nose-flutes can be found throughout
the region, the voice has long been the most important
instrument among Polynesian peoples. Whether singing
Christian hymns imported by missionaries or traditional
songs such as the 'lakalaka' of Tonga that date back
generations, their choral music is unsurpassed. Also
important in Polynesian musical culture is dance, both
to accompany "action songs" such as the hula and the
'aparima' of Tahiti, or in the signature seated-dance
styles such as Western Samoa's 'ma'ulu'ulu'. Polynesia
also offers the unique music of New Zealand's Maori
people, whose legendary 'hakka' dance can still send
shivers down an onlooker's spine.

I do hope that you have enjoyed this brief outline
of the origins of our traditional and beautiful
Polynesian music. In the next edition, it will be
my great pleasure to share with you a little more
information on the origins of the traditional music
of our beautiful Micronesia!



David Fanshawe presents important highlights
from his monumental Pacific Collections, recorded
over fourteen years (1978-1992). The selections
focus on the rich variety of authentic himene (hymns)
indigenous to Tahiti, the Cook Islands, the Society
Islands, the Austral Islands, Manihiki, Pukapuka,
Maupiti, Tahaa, Bora Bora, and Raivavae. The 20
tracks include a valuable collection of traditional
music including, The Signing Reef 1 - 5, Legend
of Maupiti and Marae Arahurahu.


The talented Maori twins, Ruia and Ranea Aperahama,
deliver a celebration of contemporary Maori music that
is performed completely in the Maori language. The
musical styles include reggae, soul, Latin rhythm elements,
and a strong spiritual theme that ties the album together,
giving it a natural Maori essence.


Soul Paua are Jerry Banse and Turi Reedy. Jerry is
Samoan, Turei, a Maori. Their music is in te reo,
sometimes in English and a mix of rock, jazz, blues
folk and traditional Maori music. Their debut album
is based on the story of an urban young Maori prophet
and is currently being developed as a stage production.

The songs on the album follow the story of one man
from his birth, the troubles he is confronted with,
the prophetic abilities he discovers and how he
reflects on his journey.

The themes talk about the ability of anyone to
do anything at any time. The story is based on
the tales of Maui and the prophets - both of
which came from unlikely beginnings. Maui
was abandoned at birth and the prophets were
often considered rebels or on the outside of
decent society.

That's all for now. I wish you all a wonderful
and prosperous day. Thank you.

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Overfishing Of Our Oceans

It is rather disturbing to read that thirteen years after the world rallied to curb overfishing, most nations are failing to abide by the United Nation's "code of conduct" for managing fisheries. Australia, Norway, the United States, Canada, Iceland and Namibia were the only nations that scored above a 60 per cent compliance rate, the equivalent of a barely passing "D" grade, according to a marine scientist's research.
The global fisheries standards were developed in 1995 by the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Rome. Though voluntary, the 12-part code is based on rules of international law and some of it has been made into legally binding agreements. It was crafted to include all aspects of the fishing business, including processing and trade in fish products, aquaculture, marine research and coastal management, reducing pollution and harmful fishing practices. The code also has been translated into 100 languages to try to encourage people to follow it.
Sadly, a survey published in the journal 'Nature' raises troubling questions about how the world's marine fisheries can continue to supply the main source of protein for many on the Planet with the oceans being severely overfished.
A spokesman for the United Nation Environment Program said that overfishing shows nations' failure to address "fundamental links" between ecology and the daily needs of tens of millions of people. The spokesman went on to say that "It's absolutely clear that one of the great market failures of modern times is the management of the world's fisheries, and there are examples from almost every fishery across the globe where the fishing effort exceeds the available catch".
Indeed, it was two years ago, that a team of ecologists and economists warned in the journal 'Science' that just about all seafood sources face collapse by 2048 if current trends of overfishing and pollution continue.
There is no doubt that these findings present a serious problem for people worldwide and, in particular, for our Pacific Island people for whom fish stocks are an essential and only source of protein. Certainly, declining fish stocks may well make it impossible for our traditional island way of life to survive for much longer.

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The Origin Of What Is Now Commonly Known As The Sweet Potato

For many years, researches and scientists have speculated that ancient Pacific Island voyagers may have reached the shores of South America. Indeed, Arthur Grimble (later Sir Arthur Grimble), in an article in 'National Geographic Magazine' of January 1943, mentions a tradition among the Micronesian people of the Gilbert Islands (now the Republic of Kiribati), that one of their early adventurers reached the shores of the American continent, more than 4,500 miles away.

The stories tell of one Raakau, the greatest of all Gilbertese navigators who reported a land that stretched along the eastern edge of the ocean, to northward without end, and to the southward without end. It was said that this land lies beyond the farthest eastward islands and it was a wall of mountains up against the place where the sun rises, standing over plains full of fertility. There is only one littoral in the Pacific that can be said to fit this description, and that is the western coast of the American continent.

In addition, the late Professor Roland B. Dixon was convinced that the sweet potato reached Polynesia from America by the aid of human hands. He also concluded that the transference of the plant was carried out by Polynesians who had reached the Peruvian coast and had taken the valuable plant back with them to their island home. The Peruvian coast was specified because, in the Kechua dialet of north Peru, the name for the sweet potato is "kumar" and, in the Polynesian name for the plant is "kumara".

In this respect, it is most interesting to see that a paper that recently appeared in the prestigious 'Proceedings of the National Academy of Science' provides the first hard evidence supporting the view that Polynesians did, in fact, sail all the way to the west coast of the American continent, at least a century before the arrival of Columbus.

The key to this breakthrough was chicken bones found in Chile which were radiocarbon dated as approximately 600 years old. DNA testing revealed that the bones carried a rare mutation otherwise only found in chickens from Mele Havea, Tonga, and Fatu-ma-Futi, American Samoa. This evidence clearly indicates a pattern of interaction between Polynesians, long recognized as some of the world's finest sailors and navigators in times preceding Western contact, and South Americans. To put it simply, Polynesians not only made it to America before Columbus, but they apparently introduced the chicken to the continent, as well, with these fowls having a DNA identical to chickens found in Tonga and Tutuila, Samoa.

Another interesting story relating to Polynesian voyagers comes from the study of the chemistry of ancient basalt adzes found in the Tuamotus in the 1930s. Scientists from the University of Queensland, in Australia, have definitely traced one of them to the island of Kahoolawe. The research, published in the Journal 'Science', confirms the view that ancient voyagers came to Hawaii from what is now French Polynesia, and then returned.

Indeed, the early legends from Hawaii recount many voyages to and from Tahiti. In sailing south, the course was maintained by keeping the North Star directly astern. When the North Star sank into the sea, the star Newe was taken as the southern guide and the constellation of Humu was overhead. The last voyager mentioned in Hawaiian traditions was the priest Paao, who arrived from Ra'iatea in about 1275 A.D.

In any event, it is pleasing to see that the modern scientific tools of DNA analysis and chemical testing are confirming so many of the early oral traditions of Pacific Island people. They are also confirming the view that the Polynesians are some of the finest canoe builders, sailors and navigators that the world has ever known.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Oceania Origins And Micronesian Music

Welcome Everybody!

I would now like to discuss a little further
about the origins of the Polynesian and
Micronesian people, as well as the traditional
music of Micronesia.

The islands of Micronesia include the Federated
States of Micronesia (Pohnpei, Kosrae, Chuuk
and Yap), Guam, Palau, Saipan, the Republic
of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of
Kiribati. Indeed, Micronesia means 'small
islands' and is derived from the Greek words
'mikros' which means small, and 'nesos' which
means island. This is a perfect way to
describe these over two thousand tropical
islands scattered across the heart of the
Pacific Ocean between Hawai'i and the Philippines.
They are spread over a great distance, yet
each has its own culture, history, customs,
rituals, myths and legends, ethnology, lifestyle
and topographical personality.

The islands of Micronesia and Polynesia
collectively comprise the last major region
of the globe to be settled by humans. Both of
these groups of islands were colonized within
the last 5,000 years by Austronesian-speaking
agriculturists. In the past, linguistic studies
have been a major factor in suggesting the origins
of both the Micronesian and Polynesian people
who, in the main, are of medium stature with
straight hair and brown skin.

One of the earliest records of the evidence
of Polynesian languages deriving from Asia
was that of the missionary, John Williams,
who, in 1840, published a range of Polynesian
words along with their Asian origins. In his
book, 'Missionary Enterprises In The South
Sea Islands' published in London by John
Snow in 1840, William ponders in Chapter XXIX
on the origins of the South Sea Islands. He
draws the distinction between the characteristics
of the Melanesians and those of the Polynesians
which he considered had Malay characteristics and
Indian social structure. These he took as clear
indications of the Asiatic origin of the Polynesian
people. He said, however, that the language spoken
by the Malays and the Polynesians was clear
evidence of the origins of the Polynesians.

Certainly, it was common for anthropologists
to base past studies on linguistics. A study
of grammar and word lists allowed researchers
to establish degrees of correlation between
various Pacific Islanders. For example, the
Chamorro language is most closely related to
Bareic in Sulawesi based on a comparison of
standardized word lists. Linguists have
formulated theories of Pacific Island colonization
based on the similarity of languages including
P.S. Bellwood, who wrote the definitive work
on the peopling of the Pacific, relying heavily
on linguistic evidence.

Recent research has suggested, however, that
DNA offers a better way to study the relationships
between Pacific Island people. There is a problem
in using language to predict relations among people
in that language is a culturally transmitted and
not a biological trait, whereas DNA is the genetic
material that determines biological inheritance.

In a DNA study undertaken in 1994, Koji Lum
from The Institute of Statistical Mathematics,
Tokyo, Japan, collected head hair in Micronesia.
He used the head hair to obtain DNA samples.
The study was undertaken in order to compare
the genetic relationships of various Micronesian
groups to other Pacific Islanders and Asians and
their languages. The study examined DNA that
is found within mitochondria (mtDNA), small
cellular bodies that function as the energy
factories and storehouses of our cells.
Mitochondria are inherited from the body of the
mother's fertilized egg, and are transmitted
maternally to the next generation. Consequently,
this analysis ignores inheritance from a father.

In general, this study found that the majority
of mtDNA sequences from Micronesian and
Polynesian populations are derived from Asia,
whereas others are inferred to have originated
in New Guinea. The data supported the concept
of an Island Southeast Asian origin and a
colonization route along the north coast of New
Guinea. The Marianas and the main island of
Yap appear to have been independently settled
directly from Island Southeast Asia, and both
have received migrants from Central-Eastern
Micronesia since then. Palau clearly demonstrates
a complex prehistory including a significant
influx of lineages from New Guinea. Thus genetic
similarities among Micronesian and Polynesian
populations result, in some cases, from a common
origin and, in others, from extensive gene flow.

As well as showing that Micronesians and
Polynesians have a southeast Asian homeland,
studies based on DNA contributed by both
females and males to their offspring generally
indicate a greater degree of Melanesian heritage
for Polynesians and Micronesians.

There are some exceptions, however, with the
results for Palau and Yap showing that the
mtDNA and linguistic relationships do not agree.
This can be interpreted in a number of ways and
suggests that Palau has been 'seeded' by people
with ancestral roots in island Southeast Asia and
Melanesia, as well as the more easterly parts of

In addition, Chamorro mtDNA is very distinctive
when compared to other Micronesians and
Polynesians. This suggests that the Marianas have
a different settlement history than the rest of
Micronesia. Chamorros have not mixed much
with other Micronesians. The study suggests that
Chamorros and Aboriginal Malays have common
maternal ancestral origins in the distant past.
This was a time being before the Chamorros
were a distinctive group and before the colonization
of the Marianas by people whose descendants
would only later develop the way of living that
defined them as Chamorros.

Music and dance in Micronesia, though certainly
not the same as their Polynesian counterparts, are
closely related to them.With the exception of Truk
(Chuuk) in the central Carolines, which displays
traits of Melanesian and possibly Indonesian
influence, the music structure of all parts of
Micronesia is predominantly word-determined, as
is that of Polynesia. The songs of Micronesia tell
of legendary histories, genealogies and navigational
tales of the islands. Indeed, the music is based
around the mythology and ancient Micronesian
rituals which were handed down in a musical
context from one generation to the next.Certainly,
over generations, the traditional music of Micronesia
was composed utilizing mythology, magic, rituals
and closely guarded procedures. The music is very
voice oriented with chanting, stamping and body

The musical instruments of Micronesia are few,
mainly as a consequence of limited material being
available throughout the small islands and atolls
of Micronesia..The shell trumpet and nose flute
are the most common, though standard flutes and
Jews harps are also found. A common idiophone
in Micronesia is a stick that is carried by men in
certain dances. The performers strike each others
sticks in the course of the choreography.
Membranophones are not very common, though
the hourglass single-headed drum like those played
in Papua New Guinea is found as far north as the
Marshall Islands. In keeping with the ecology of
atoll life, the skins of these drums are made from a
shark's belly or parts of the sting ray. Many atolls
of the Micronesian Pacific are without any
indigenous musical instruments whatsoever.

Dance movements are mainly of hands and arms
in accompaniment to poetry. In some islands, such
as Yap (in the western Carolines) and Kiribati,
there is a similar concern for rank in the placement
of dancers, as well as the emphasis on rehearsed
execution of songs and movements. But, although
movements and types of dance have a superficial
similarity to those of Polynesia, there are

In the Yap empire, for example, dancers from Ulithi,
Woleai, and other islands performed and taught their
choreography and texts to the Yapese as tribute,
even though the dance texts were in languages
unintelligible to the Yapese dancers; the function
of movements was not to illustrate a story but to
decorate it. Instead of acknowledging a chief's
deed or genealogy, the Yapese dancers
demonstrated the overlordship of Yap to the
other islands. Even in Ifalik, where texts were
in their own language, the movements did not
interpret poetry but were apparently abstractly
decorative. The same is true for Kiribati. Thus,
Polynesian dance could be characterized as
illustration of poetry, and Micronesian dance
as decoration of poetry, while music in both
areas serves as an elevated form of audible
performance for poetry.



Tim Sameke and his group, Wececa, are the
most popular dance troupe that produces shows
regularly in New Caledonia. Confident with this
popularity, they have recorded their first album
at the end of 1999. With the cover version of
one of Gurejele's hit, "Waipeipegu", Wececa
meets a huge success in the country and wish to
be the first band from New Caledonia to export
beyond the Pacific region


The Somai Serenaders from Savu-Savu, Fiji,
play a traditional string band style unique to
the islands. Every village, it seems, has its
own string band and that the Somai group is one
of the very best players. Their music is played
in a very ritualized fashion while sitting on
the floor or the ground around a large bowl filled
with kava juice. Kava is a local root that has
medicinal properties and leaves a mild narcotic

We were immediately impressed by their music
and their stories of how their music is inspired
by nature, like the rhythm of the wind blowing
through the palm trees. Apenisa Waqa, the lead
guitarist told us 'Just imagine a couple of coconuts
floating on the water and from that we compose
a song'.The group's instrumentation is three guitars
and a ukulele with four male voices -- sung in a
soprano range. But Apenisa's improvisational
guitar leads were tasteful and full of ease. It was
almost as if the entire Fijian lifestyle of taking
things slowly was being expressed through his

They call their style of music 'Sigi Drigi' --
singing and drinking. When asked about what he
would like the world to know about their music,
Apenisa replied: 'We didn't know we were good -
we just do this to make the kava taste better'.
This group has never been recorded before and,
in fact, this genre of Fijian.

Thank you everybody and I wish you all the
very best in your important endeavours and
undertakings. Have a great and prosperous

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