Nukuleka – The Founding Settlement of Polynesia
By Semisi Tauelangi Fakahau, Collector
The soil sample was collected on 14 August 2008 from an archaeological excavation site located at the township allotment of Mr. Sione Na’a Moala in the village of Nukuleka. Nukuleka is a small village situated on the north-east coast of the island of Tongatapu, Kingdom of Tonga.
It was on this site that Professor David Burley from the Simon Fraser University, Canada, and his archaeological team conducted digs in 2007 and uncovered pieces of Lapita pottery. After testing the pieces of Lapita pottery, Professor Burley announced in January 2008 that their findings confirmed that the Lapita pottery they uncovered were estimated to be about 2,900 years old, which also confirmed that Tonga was the first group of islands in Polynesia to be settled by the Lapita People about 3,000 years ago, and Nukuleka was their fist settlement in Tonga.
According to Professor Burley, the Lapita People were ocean voyagers from ancient Melanesia—the Pacific Island group to the west that includes New Guinea, Fiji and New Caledonia, and it was at Nukuleka that these Melanesian settlers developed a new culture and social structures, thus becoming a distinct people, “Polynesians,” before setting out to colonise the uninhabited islands of Polynesia.
Furthermore, Professor Burley also claimed that the settlement at Nukuleka lasted long enough for distinctively Polynesian physical traits pottery styles and chieftain-based social structures to develop, differentiating these people from their Melanesian ancestors.
As a Polynesian, and one of the Soil Collection Volunteers, I am proud to have played a part in this very important project.
Semisi Tauelangi Fakahau
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