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3 June 2009

The National Museum of Australia presents a major exhibition which tells the story of the world's last great migration — the exploration and peopling of the vast Pacific Ocean. Voyages of the Pacific Ancestors: Vaka Moana opens at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra on Friday.

'The Pacific was the last frontier for human occupation, this exhibition is the story of the occupation of one third of the earth,' said Craddock Morton, Director of the National Museum of Australia.

'The early voyagers have common cultural backgrounds — technology, languages, beliefs and laws. They carried this with them to the Pacific where, over time and on different island groups, unique cultural identities developed until we have the diverse Pacific cultures of today,' said Mr Morton.

Vaka means 'seagoing canoe' and Moana means 'ocean' in several key Polynesian languages. Voyages of the Pacific Ancestors: Vaka Moana features more than 100 objects, including rare carvings, navigation instruments and interactive multimedia displays where Pacific Islanders share engaging stories of their ancestors and the strong cultural connections still held today.

Four large vakas are featured; a 13 metre long Tahiti sacred double vaka, a double hulled vaka from the Cook Islands and a Bonito Vaka from Solomon Islands, both approximately eight metres in length and a 7 metre long Tikopia outrigger vaka.

Voyages of the Pacific Ancestors: Vaka Moana is organised by Auckland Museum — Tamaki Paenga Hira, Auckland, New Zealand.

Admission is free.

Voyages of the Pacific Ancestors: Vaka Moana is on display at the National Museum of Australia from June 5 to October 18, 2009. For more information about the exhibition visit

For interviews, images and more information please contact Dennis Grant on 02 6208 5351, 0409 916 481; Caroline Vero on 02 6208 5338, 0438 620 710 or

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