As an Ancient Polynesian Astronomer I have dedicated my life to the discovery and teaching the knowledge of Ancient Polynesia. My research unearthed knowledge that covers all fields of Ancient Polynesian life, including but not limited to, the political, the scientific, the social, the archaeological, and the religious.
My research reveals the inter-relations of all these aspects of life in Ancient Polynesia. That is the religious knowledge is connected to the social, the political, the scientific etc. Every aspect of Ancient Polynesia inter-related. We use examples from the Kingdom of Tonga, to show some of the relationships.
The Sun Gate in Tonga, The Ha’amonga ‘o Maui, is much more than an ancient ruin. Yes, it was used for mapping the movement of the sun, for determining the seasons, and for determining the best times to make long seafaring voyages. Not only was I one of the early supporters of this knowledge, but I was doubted and refuted by many scholars of the Academia for decades. Now, this same Academia, is validating and accepting my research discoveries.
However, while they are only discovering what I already declared and shared decades ago as historical facts, I will share the vast impact that the Ha’amonga ‘o Maui had on Tongan culture and every day life. An impact that in many ways defined Tonga’s political, scientific, archaeological, and religious structure.
The Ha’amonga ‘o Maui structure in Tonga is positioned in a specific manner and direction that aligns with the movements of the Sun. The important questions to ask is How? and Why? was the Ha’monga built. The only attempt to answer the “How” focuses primarily on the construction method of building the Ha’amonga, and the “Why” is mainly discussing details that I discovered very early in my research regarding the Ha’amonga assisting in determining seasons/movement of the sun.
Some of the deeper “How” the Ha’amonga was built in regards to ancient polynesian astronomy and “Why” it was built in the first place is what we will discuss in this article. The articles we will provide in the future will go into other aspects of Tongan society that reflects the Ha’amonga’s knowledge and impact on Tongan and Polynesian Society. This article will focus on the ancient ruin (Ha’amonga ‘o Maui) and its relation to Ancient Polynesian/Tongan scientific knowledge, astronomy, and navigation.
The Ha’amonga ‘o Maui is a duplication of the heavens. That is, that the Ha’amonga is a physical representation of a constellation in the heavens. A constellation that serves as the navigational compass of Maui the ancient navigator. This constellation is int he exact form and design of the Ancient Tongan Ha’amonga ruin.
Where is this Ha’amonga ‘o Maui in the heavens?
The Ha’amonga in the sky is found in the constellation Orion. The four points of orion that constitute the Ha’amonga in the sky are the feet and shoulders of Orion.
This single design from my book, “Tongan Astronomy” encompasses the relationship of 1. Ha’amonga ‘O Maui Ancient Ruin 2. Ha’amonga Constellation 3. Double V in Tonga and throughout South America 4. Toloa Constellation 5. Maui’s Ancient Navigational Compass 6. As well as their relationship to other key constellations in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere.
How was this Constellation a Compass?
The stars at night rise and set just as the sun rises and sets. So understanding how the sun rises and sets at different times of the year can help make important decision on when the times to plant certain crops, when the best times to conduct long sea-faring voyages etc. The understanding of the movement of the stars (rising and setting) at different times of the night and the relationships of different constellations to each can provide critical information to determine direction (North, South, East, West) but also your location.
In regards to decifering direction as a compass, the Ha’amonga in the Sky is accompanied by three stars that make up Orions Belt. Orion’s belt in Tongan astronomy is called Toloa. The Toloa constellation is referred to by many Polynesian islands as the big bird. The tail, of Toloa, when the constellation rises at night always points north. Therefore, once the Ha’amonga constellation rises at night you will know your North, South, East, and West direction by looking at the Toloa bird’s tail, head, and wing points.
The Toloa tail points north, the left wing points East, right wing points West, and the head points South. So, if you know that the rising of the Toloa and Ha’amonga you can find your direction coupled with the understanding of the path of the constellation across the sky you can compensate for the movement and determine your directions at any time throughout the night. Just as you can understand direction from the rising and setting of the sun at different times of the day and year. So in many aspects the night sky is your compass and map all rolled into one.
This is one of the basic foundation of Ancient Polynesian Navigation. The ability to decipher direction which is a basic principle of navigation. However, the ability to obtain this knowledge requires a significant amount of knowledge and training to obtain, exercise, and preserve. This single piece of knowledge shows the complexity and advanced nature of ancient polynesian astronomy, but more importantly, how advanced ancient polynesian society was.
The names by which the Ha’amonga constellation is referenced throughout the Pacific are Taulua (Tonga/Samoa), Taurua (Atearoa/Tahiti), Kaulua (Hawaii). This name incorporates the double canoe in referencing the Ha’amonga in the Sky and also the third month in the Ancient Polynesian Calendar.
So just as today, technology has an impact on our religion, social structure, politics etc. this is also true in Ancient Polynesia.
The Ha’amonga constellation has various names throughout Polynesia. These names and their relationships are a topic to be covered in a future article.
Ha’amonga Origin & Constellation