Sunday, June 21, 2015

Common Origins: The longest journey to the youngest land

Lisa Matisoo-Smith leads the Genographic project for the Oceania/Pacific region – one of 11 global regional scientific teams using genetics to trace the long-term anthropological origins of people in all parts of the world.

Talking to Kim Hill on the weekend, she outlined the Africa to Aotearoa research project which aims to chart the migratory history of all those of us who have ended up in Aotearoa/New Zealand – whether 1000 years ago; or last week. (Btw, the government has decided to cut funding to the Allan Wilson Centre doing the NZ-based research at the end of the year – go figure.

More information about the Africa to Aotearoa project is available here, and says among other things:
The islands of Polynesia and, more specifically, New Zealand was the last region in the world to be permanently occupied by humans and thus holds an important place in a study of human migrations and migration histories. Our relatively small population of 4.4 million, the relatively recent migrations, and the biological and cultural diversity of the country make NZ an ideal study in the development of a national identity.
The goal of this project is to better understand the genetic history of New Zealanders and to use this information to identify population origins, historical interactions and other aspects of our population history.
Those who have voluntarily provided DNA samples to the project learn the anthropological (not the recent genealogical) story of their direct maternal or paternal ancestors — where they lived and how they migrated around the world many thousands of years ago – including the one common female and male ancestor that each of us is linked to way back in Africa about 160,000 years ago. 

Just goes to show – we are one family: sisters and brothers (well, distant cousins anyway).

Listen to the Radio New Zealand interview:

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