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Rethinking Polynesian Origins: Human Settlement of the Pacific

The question “where do we come from?” is universal – all cultures have their myths and stories of where they came from. It’s also one that interests science as you will know from your studies of Human Evolution. Closer to home, scientists like Allan Wilson Centre researcher Lisa Matisoo-Smith, are working on finding the answers to questions about the origins of Polynesians and human settlement of the Pacific. This seminar looks at how our understanding the story of human settlement of the Pacific has advanced as a result of evidence collected using molecular biotechnological techniques. It will also look at examples of founder effects in the evolution of modern Polynesians.

The Seminar Paper and Questions

  Rethinking Polynesian Origins Seminar Paper

Download the seminar paper and read this in preparation for your in-school workshop prior to the seminar on September 16th, 2010.

Rethinking Polynesian Origins Pre-Seminar Discussion Paper

Download the pre-seminar discussion paper. Use the focus questions to help you as you read the seminar paper. If you have any questions that you would like answered post them on the Seminar 7 Question Page.

The Challenge Questions

   Rethinking Polynesian Origins Challenge Questions
  • The CHALLENGE QUESTIONS are for discussion in your school workshop after the seminar.
  • Make sure that you post your ideas and answers to the challenge questions here. This page will be monitored by teachers and scientists who will respond to your discussion.

Post a question for the seminar

If you would like to ask a question about the seminar paper before the seminar please click here. Questions will be answered during the seminar.

View the seminar powerpoint

A copy of the seminar powerpoint is available to download here.

Seminar Chat

  • You need a username and password to enter the chat. If you don't have one go to the seminar chat registration page. This needs to be done BEFORE the day of the seminar.
  • To enter the online live chat please click here. During the chat you are encouraged to ask questions. Your questions will be answered during the seminar; either during the chat, or at the end of the broadcast. Those questions that are not answered during the seminar will be answered afterwards on the wiki.

Watch the Seminar later

Click here to download a copy of this seminar.

You can also watch the streaming version by clicking on the player below:

Useful Resources for this Seminar

Scientific Papers available online

Other items of interest

  • Two interviews with Lisa Matisoo-Smith

    - from National Geographic

    - The University of Auckland's Inquiring Minds series

Links to your school programme

This seminar links to the following NCEA Level 3 Achievement Standards:

  • AS 90714 Biology 3.2 Research a contemporary biological issue
  • AS 90715 Biology 3.3 Describe the role of DNA in relation to gene expression
  • AS 90717 Biology 3.5 Describe processes and patterns of evolution
  • AS 90718 Biology 3.6 Describe applications of biotechnological techniques

A list of objectives from your Year 13 programme that link into the seminar can be found on page 2 of the Pre-Seminar Questions and Discussion.

About the Presenters

Lisa Matisoo-Smith | Michal Denny

Lisa is Professor of Biological Anthropology at the University of Otago and also a Principal Investigator with the Allan Wilson Centre. Click on the links below to find out about the research she is working on with each institution.

University of Otago

Department of Anatomy and Structural Biology

Allan Wilson Centre