Polynesian Voyages through the Ages

Cook Islander Dr Joseph Williams, QSO, QSM, MB, CHB, MPH, has published Polynesian Ancestors – Te Ui Tupuna – Voyages Through the Ages, revealing one of the greatest migration sagas in ancient times.



It tells of the journeys that took centuries from five nations in four voyages across oceans and lands to the distant isles of Polynesia.


This include voyages from: Taiwan to Indonesia, Melanesia to Savaii; Taiwan across the Ainu islands off the coast of Japan, the Eleutian islands off Alaska and Canada to Hawaii and Rapa Nui; Egypt to India, Indonesia, Melanesia to Savaii and the Marquesas; The Con Tiki Tribe of Peru, across the Pacific Ocean to Tuamotu and Rapa Nui; Raiatea to Aotona and Aotearoa; - in epic voyages which could only be described as ‘The Great Polynesian Saga.’


This story is the migration voyages of the ancient Polynesian Ancestors, Te Ui Tupuna, down through the ages, from Avaiki Nui to the final destination in Polynesian Isles of Aotona and Aotearoa.Dr Williams dedicates the book to the memory of the Cook Islands’ first Prime Minister, Sit Albert Henry, who was known as Papa Arapati.


“He was the first person to introduce me to the subject of Te Ui Tupuna in 1968 when I first entered Parliament and in 1975 at the first conference of Tumukorero (traditional speakers),” Dr Williams recalls.


“He also told me to read the book by Sir Peter Buck, Vikings of the Sunrise. Since that time, I’ve researched the information on Ancestors with interesting revelations. I began recording my research findings and gave presentations at conferences in New Zealand and the Cook Islands.


“Papa Arapati called us custodians of our traditional culture, history, language, legends and genealogies, to look back to our past in search for our Avaiki. The children of the future will need to know who their ancestors were and where they came from.”Dr Williams says in his research he discovered other accounts of voyagers overlapped and converged in Polynesia, despite modern day disputes of who settled the region and when.


“This is the only document which combines all voyages in one book,” he says.


“In the book there is evidence to support each one and when you look at it, they’re all true.”


Launched during the 2018 Pasifika Medical Association (PMA) Conference in mid-November Dr Williams says it was well received by attendees.


PMA and Pasifika Futures chief executive Debbie Sorensen agrees, having read the book herself.


“Dr Williams is a much respected clinician, leader and general practitioner with a depth of knowledge around the navigation of our collective peoples through the Pacific," says Ms Sorensen.


“The publication of his book is a really fantastic example of sharing the knowledge of our elders for the younger generation.


“And we will be using the book as part of a training programme for our Whanau Ora Navigators.”


Polynesian Ancestors – Te Ui Tupuna – Voyages Through the Ages, is available now.