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Polynesian dolphins head out to greet ships at Point Venus, Tahiti

by Whitt Birnie

Historical logs, legend, myth, tale and lore have given Tahiti more than a name; Tahiti has become an idea rather than just an island.  Credit the writers, artists, sailors, mutineers, producers and movie stars with building an image of what once was, and what it became. But credit the Polynesians with imagination, endurance and hospitality – against all odds, they have survived.  They are deeply proud of their culture and love their country, the Fenua, like no other.

It was nearly 250 years ago that navigator James Cook sailed in, introducing the Western world to an exceptional culture.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Here, with a stretch of the imagination, is how it might have appeared.

Polynesians in outrigger canoes, the Va’a, head out of the pass to greet a tall ship.

A Tall Ship’s rigging, as seen from the deck on an outrigger. Imagine their surprise.

At home on the water, young Polynesians today are world-champions in outriggers.

Time goes by, Tall Ships come and go, yet Polynesians still live, work and play happily.