Lapita people are ancestors to all Ni-Vanuatu, finds latest DNA study

Our ancestors: a Lapita skeleton buried with three other skulls at Teouma

Ol bubu blong yumi: a Lapita skeleton buried with three other skulls at Teouma, Efate

A major academic paper has been published online in Nature, the top scientific journal in the world, which solves many questions of the origins of Pacific peoples, including the people of Vanuatu.

The study, titled ‘Genomic insights into the peopling of the Southwest Pacific‘ (paywall), is based on a revolutionary study of ancient DNA from the Lapita skeletons from Teouma found during the 2004 to 2010 archaeological dig there. There are 31 authors to the paper, led by Pontus Skoglund of Harvard University.

It turns out the foundation population of Vanuatu probably came directly from Taiwan or the northern Philippines,  bypassing New Guinea and the Solomon Islands without mixing with the Australo-Papuan people already living there.

All Ni-Vanuatu descend from these first migrants and their later intermarriage with mixed Asian-Papuan groups who came down from the New Guinea and Solomon Islands. There are Asian Lapita genes in every Ni-Vanuatu, the mark of their earliest ancestors.

The original archaeological research carried out at Teouma was in response to damage to the site from soil quarrying for the prawn farm. The bulldozers had revealed skeletons and broken Lapita pots dating to almost 3,000 years ago. Read the rest of this entry »

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Must-read photo essay on climate change in the Pacific

Children of Etas village on Efate watch a water truck delivering drinking water to their village after Cyclone Pam. Photo: Vlad Sokhin

Children of Etas village on Efate watch a fire truck delivering drinking water to their village after Cyclone Pam in March 2015. Photo: Vlad Sokhin

‘Warm Waters’, a photo essay on climate change by photojournalist Vlad Sokhin, is the best piece of reporting on climate change in the Pacific we’ve ever seen, period. Sokhin’s images and text capture the grave threat climate change poses to the Pacific islands from sea level rise, hotter weather, changes to rainfall and stronger cyclones.

Please go and take a look at the photo-essay here, and encourage your friends to read it too!


Vanuatu – the view from Guam

The 12th Festival of Pacific Arts opens in Hagåtña, Guam, overnight Vanuatu time. Here’s a segment from Guam television channel Pacific News Center introducing Vanuatu to a Guam audience.

Unfortunately, due to years of financial mismanagement and misappropriation at the Vanuatu Cultural Centre under the last administration, Vanuatu did not have sufficient funds to send a delegation to Guam this year.

More on the Festival to follow here this week. The Festival’s website is here.