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Vikings of the Sunrise—Peter H Buck (1938)

This important publication was the first Māori Western scholarly account of the discovery and settlement of Polynesia in ancient times by seafarers so expert in navigation that Te Rangi Hīroa (Sir Peter Buck) described them as Vikings of the sunrise.

Publication details

Buck, P. H. Vikings of the Sunrise. Philadelphia, USA: Lippincott, 1938.

About the book

Te Rangi Hiroa (1877, 1951; Ngāti Mutunga) produced this publication and ethnographic analysis of the diffusion of Polynesian migration and settlement in the Pacific. This work was and continues to be an important contrast to the theories of Norwegian amateur anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl (Kon-tiki). Vikings of the Sunrise covers the history, navigational knowledge and traditions associated with the early waves of Polynesians who settled Tonga, the Cook Islands, New Zealand, Easter Island, Samoa, Hawaii and the Marquesas.

Te Rangi Hiroa explains how a Regional Survey of Polynesia project was undertaken at the Bishop Museum and that the project was so appealing to him that he (a medical professional at the time) relinquished his position in Aotearoa as Director of Hygiene and joined the staff of the Bishop as an ethnologist to aid in the fieldwork. Te Rangi Hiroa would eventually go on to become the first indigenous director of the Bishop Museum. Vikings of the Sunrise was Te Rangi Hiroa’s attempt to make known to the general public, the classic story of the world’s greatest navigators who settled the Pacific.

Further information 

  • Out of print


This publication is part of the series Te Takarangi: Celebrating Māori publications - a sample list of 150 non-fiction books produced by a partnership between Royal Society Te Apārangi and Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga.