Pathway of the Birds: The Voyaging Achievements of Māori and Their Polynesian Ancestors

Paperback: $39.00
ISBN-13: 9780824878658
Published: August 2018

Additional Information

288 pages | over 400 color photographs, diagrams, illustrations, and commissioned maps


  • Winner of the Ka Palapala Po‘okela Awards (various categories), 2019
  • Winner of the New Zealand Heritage Book Award, 2019
  • SHARE:
  • About the Book
  • This book tells of one of the most expansive and rapid phases of human migration in prehistory, a period during which Polynesians reached and settled nearly every archipelago scattered across some 28 million square kilometres of the Pacific Ocean, an area now known as East Polynesia.

    Through an engaging narrative and over 400 maps, diagrams, photographs, and illustrations, Crowe conveys some of the skills, innovation, resourcefulness, and courage of the people that drove this extraordinary feat of maritime expansion.

    In this masterful work, Andrew Crowe integrates a diversity of research and viewpoints in a format that is both accessible to the lay reader and required reading for any serious scholar of this fascinating region.

  • About the Author(s)
    • Andrew Crowe, Author

      Andrew Crowe is a bestselling New Zealand author with a special interest in helping make nature accessible to beginners of all ages. He has written over 40 nature books covering seashells, insects, spiders, birds and other animals and plants. Andrew has won numerous New Zealand book awards, including the Margaret Mahy Medal in 2009 for his overall contribution to children’s literature and the Ashton Wylie Award in 2005 for a biography for teenagers on the Dalai Lama. It was his interest in the natural world and its importance to Maori that led him to explore the indigenous links between the first peoples of New Zealand and their voyaging ancestors.
  • Reviews and Endorsements
    • Andrew Crowe has without doubt produced a major work of scholarly synthesis regarding the voyaging achievements and history of the Polynesians, one that will be accessible to the lay reader yet also required reading for the serious scholar of this fascinating region.
      —Patrick Vinton Kirch
    • Andrew Crowe has as­sembled a stunning amount of evidence from archaeology, ge­netics, linguistics, meteorol­ogy, astronomy, zoology and tradition to show not only that the Polynesians knew how to navigate across the seemingly trackless waves but the paths they followed, their techniques for locating islands and how they adapted to so many differ­ent environments. Wonderfully informative and entertaining.
      —New Zealand Weekend Herald
    • Although departing from classical narratives of migrations, [Crowe's] organisation remains compelling and surely succeeds in demonstrating the unrivalled voyaging capacities of Polynesians generally and Māori specifically. . . . Another noteworthy quality of the book lies in the exhaustive review of Polynesian places. Crowe does not omit archipelagos commonly left aside in the big narratives. . . . Chapter 10 remains in my view a tour de force of this volume. Crowe describes here what a voyage of settlement may have looked like in the most accurate and vivid way.
      —Guillaume Molle, Australian National University, The Journal of the Polynesian Society, 128:2 (June 2019)
    • Crowe's book [is] a highly readable and lucid account of the early Polynesians' epic saga. Illustrated with photographs and maps, his account of the Pacific's cultural, ecological and navigational settlement will appeal to both the general reader and the specialist.
      —New Zealand Listener
    • I was impressed with how many different disciplines—scientific disciplines—are all threaded together in one book. . . . It's beautifully researched, very in-depth. . . . Crowe's linguistic knowledge is truly impressive. . . . A beautiful, beautiful book. [For a podcast of the entire review, go to:]
      —Radio review by Lisa Matisoo-Smith, University of Otago
    • Pathway of the Birds contains such fascinating history, vignettes, maps, and images, the reader will be drawn to read it again and again and absorb more details along the way. . . . Crowe has assembled a compelling picture of the Polynesian age of exploration and settlement that provides a necessary contribution to the existing literature.
      —Kathryn Lage Librarian, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories / Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, The Globe: Journal of the Australian and New Zealand Map Society Inc., 85:1 (2019)
    • The book is very well written and illustrated, and is comprehensively referenced. . . . I highly recommend [it] for its readability and presentation while offering an informed account of how Polynesians in double-hulled canoes voyaged over vast distances of the Pacific Ocean from small island to small island, carrying with them the materials required for successful settlement.
      —Louise Furey, International Journal of Maritime History, 31:4
    • The book, indeed, is very much a paean in honor of the remarkable Maori. . . . Each chapter is well illustrated with maps of the different islands and photographs of their various natural and archaeological resources. . . . [It is] a veritable mine of information about the environments and resources of ancient Polynesia. It stands as an excellent addition to earlier books on Polynesian navigation by authors such as David Lewis and Geoffrey Irwin.
      —Peter Bellwood, Journal of Anthropological Research, 75:4 (Winter 2019)
    • Full of color photographs, this excellent book includes many maps, a complete list of endnotes, a comprehensive index and a bibliography for further research.
      —C. Henry Depew, The Ensign (Fall 2020)
  • Supporting Resources