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Hawaiki is the mythical island that the polynesians trace their origins to.

Also spelt as Hawaiiki, Hawai'iki, Hawaii'iki, Havai'i, Ra'iatea, or Kahiki in the various pacific island languages, though Hawaiki appears to be the most common variation used in English. The ii, i'i, ii'i variants being an attempt to phonetically reflect a long I sound.

The polynesian island of Hawaii is named in commemoration of Hawaiki.

Legend has it that the polynesians migrated from Hawaiki to the islands of the Pacific Ocean in open boats, little different from the traditional craft found in Polynesia today.

Until recently, many anthropologists had doubts that these legends described a deliberate migration, preferring to believe that the migration occurred accidentally because seafarers became lost and drifted ashore. In 1947,Thor Heyerdahl sailed the Kon-Tiki, a balsa wood raft, from South America to show that Polynesia could have been settled from the west, with sailors using the prevailing winds and simple construction techniques.

However, DNA evidence indicates that the polynesians may have originated from islands in eastern Asia, possibly from Taiwan, and moved eastwards through the pacific. The common ancestry of all the Austronesian languages, of which the polynesian languages are a major subgroup, also supports this conclusion. This indicates the migration occurred against the prevailing winds and had to be deliberate rather than just accidental.

Recently, traditional boatbuilders have constructed ocean-going craft using traditional materials and techniques and sailed them over the traditional routes using traditional navigation methods, showing such deliberate migration was possible.

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