HISTORY OF NORFOLK ISLAND - PREHISTORY

As with so many islands in the Pacific, Norfolk Island has its share of prehistory.  Like its sister island Pitcairn, ancient Polynesians did inhabit it.  Sadly, unlike Pitcairn’s previous inhabitants, there doesn’t appear to be any oral legend surrounding the island (although I would love to be mistaken on that count).

            

It is believed that Norfolk island was settled by East Polynesians from the Kermadec Islands or even the North Island of New Zealand itself, which was strongly believed by two Maori who accompanied Philip Gidley King when they landed on Norfolk Island and discovered stone tools (in the form of stone adzes and chisels). 

            

Other indications for the early inhabitants came in the form of banana plantations, small rats and even wrecked canoes.  Modern-day locations such as Arthur’s Vale and Emily Bay left reminders of the previous inhabitants.  There is even a site that is most probably a Polynesian-style marae that matches descriptions of the small maraes that were once prevalent on Pitcairn Island (the maraes on Pitcairn are now long-gone and only fragments remain).

            

One thing archaeologists have determined is that there was a lot of fishing going on (well, it is an island and fishing is pretty much a given), judging by the amount of fish bones on archaeological sites.  It is now believed that these early inhabitants may have arrived somewhere in the thirteenth or fourteenth century and survived for a while before they disappeared (how dramatic does that sound?  Though the truth is probably less dramatic).  As to why the habitation had ended by the time of the arrival of the Europeans one can only speculate.  Perhaps they departed, or maybe died out?  We’ll probably never know, but that does leave us a lot of speculation, doesn’t it?



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