Andrew Crowe was born in England to Irish immigrant parents, and reached New Zealand by ship at the age of twenty. After learning how to survive alone in the native forest, spending three years researching the topic, he put out his first book, A Field Guide to the Native Edible Plants of New Zealand. ‘My parents must have despaired about what I was doing with my life,’ he says. ‘How could learning to be at ease in the forest, pondering how Māori adapted from the tropics, and discovering how to live on very little equip anyone for a job?' To their surprise, and Andrew's too, he went on to become an award-winning author of some 40 non-fiction books, many of which seek to foster a deeper appreciation of New Zealand's natural world. His latest, Pathway of the Birds: The Voyaging Achievements of Māori and their Polynesian Ancestors (Bateman/University of Hawaii Press, 2018), was inspired by an appreciation of Polynesian skills and similarities in languages across the Pacific. Between the US and New Zealand, it has won critical acclaim and four awards.
PATHWAY OF THE BIRDS: The Voyaging Achievements of Māori and their Polynesian Ancestors
New Zealand history books (including the recent award-winning Tangata Whenua) still claim that Māori reached Aotearoa – New Zealand by accident. In Pathway of the Birds, science writer Andrew Crowe brings out a very different story. His readable and wide-ranging summary of evidence concerning the country's founding history – and that of the Pacific as a whole – points to the unique capabilities of Pacific seafarers, in particular their ability to find and re-find incredibly small and/or remote maritime targets. The book thus serves as a comprehensive challenge to the popular claim that Polynesian voyagers were 'certainly heroic but not necessarily skilful', endorsing the claim of Hawaiian master navigator Nainoa Thompson that 'Everything you need to navigate is in nature. The question is, can you see it?' Indeed, Crowe points out the many ways in which the natural world provides a key to understanding one of the most expansive and rapid phases of human migration in prehistory – a relatively brief period during which New Zealand, the Hawaiian Islands and Easter Island and all the islands in between were discovered and settled by a single race of people.
FROM THE AUTHOR
The book and its success is largely attributable to teamwork and an indigenous renaissance in Pacific voyaging, canoe building, and non-instrument navigation. Photo left: Author with Anihera Black (who crewed from Aotearoa to Rapa Nui), and Mahu Rāwiri (who built and sails a traditional Hawaiian-style craft in Tīkapa Moana-o-Hauraki).
WEBINARS about the book hosted by Te Toki Voyaging Trust, and Sarasota Audubon, Florida ♦ INTERVIEWS by Radio New Zealand National and The Lovepost ♦ BOOK TRAILERS 1. Guided by Birds | 2. Return Voyages | 3. The South American Connection ♦ READER REVIEWS here
HINEMOANA ON THE COVER
It was a sneak preview of Pathway of the Birds that inspired Dr Simon McDonald to purchase Hinemoana for New Zealand, the waka hourua featured on the book's front cover. This traditional-style sailing waka (owned and operated these days by Te Toki Voyaging Trust) is perhaps best known for the prominent part it played in the re-enacted arrival of Captain James Cook off Whitianga during New Zealand's Tuia 250 voyaging commemorations in 2019 to highlight the 'remarkable achievements of Polynesian sailors'.
ABOUT THE TITLE
The book's title, Pathway of the Birds, draws attention to the deliberate and skilled nature of Polynesian exploration, navigation and settlement and is inspired by a traditional Tuamotuan voyaging chant of the same name.
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'A GREAT READ'
■ Top Reads of 2018 – New Zealand Weekend Herald
■ Top Ten Non-Fiction for 2018 – Auckland Libraries
■ Best of 2019 – Radio New Zealand National – Absolutely one of the best books I have ever read. It has changed my relationship with the ocean
Pathway of the Birds is a great read. It skilfully traces the migration paths of our Polynesian tūpuna and highlights their mastery, ingenuity and determination in settling the great ocean of Kiwa – Te Karaka
Crowe's book [provides] a highly readable and lucid account of the early Polynesians' epic saga...[It] will appeal to both the general reader and the specialist – New Zealand Listener
Pathway of the Birds bridges the gap between academic researchers and the general audience – Journal of the Polynesian Society
An accessible, well-documented reference book that not only establishes the voyaging expertise of the Māori but also serves as a remarkable introduction to the entire region conventionally termed "Polynesia" – The Contemporary Pacific
Very well written and illustrated, and comprehensively referenced... I highly recommend [it] – International Journal of Maritime History
A veritable mine of information about the environments and resources of ancient Polynesia – Journal of Anthropological Research
Crowe has assembled a compelling picture of the Polynesian age of exploration and settlement that provides a necessary contribution to the existing literature – The Globe Journal
Beautifully researched, very in-depth... Crowe's linguistic knowledge is truly impressive – Lisa Matisoo-Smith, Head Dept Anatomy, University of Otago
An extraordinary synthesis of the voyaging history of Polynesian settlement of the Pacific... A major feat of scholarship presented with remarkable graphics and photographs. Highly recommended – James Bushnell Richardson, Professor Emeritus, Dept Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh. Choice Reviews
Pathway of the Birds shames highly trained archaeologists and anthropologists in its deeply engaging narrative of the peopling of the world's most remote islands... A must-read for all scholars of Polynesia – Andrew Shamoo, Digital Library Curator, University of California
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… Indeed, I see the great strength of Crowe's book in the masterful way that he has managed to integrate a diversity of scholarly perspectives and viewpoints into a coherent and engaging narrative – Patrick Vinton Kirch, Chancellor's Professor Emeritus, University of California who also contributed the Foreword.
OTHER BOOKS BY ANDREW CROWE
A Field Guide to the Native Edible Plants of New Zealand
– published by Penguin
Andrew's career as a writer began with this book, a handy field guide that remains popular to this day. It was first published as a hardback by Collins in 1981, redesigned and republished in paperback by Hodder & Stoughton in 1990, redesigned and published again as a hardback by Godwit in 1997, then reprinted 20 times by Penguin from 2004 – 26 printings in all, spanning 40 years with over 40,000 copies sold.
Which? series – published by Penguin
A range of award-winning beginners' field guides followed, featuring simple ID keys and a holistic view of the natural world.
- AIM Children's Book Award 1995 (Winner)
- LIANZA Book Award 2003 (Winner)
- NZPost Children's Book Award 2008 (Winner)
- AIM Children's Book Awards 1995 (Finalist)
- NZLIA Book Awards 1996 (Finalist)
- NZPost Children's Book Awards 2002, 2003 (Finalists)
- Montana Book Awards 2002, 2003 (Finalists)
Life-Size Guides – published by Penguin
This led on to an innovative ID series, featuring life-size images, aimed to be still more widely accessible, appealing especially to reluctant readers.
- LIANZA Book Award 1998 (Winner)
- GP Book Design Awards 1998 (Finalist)
- NZPost Children's Book Awards 1998, 2000, 2004, 2005 (Finalists)
- LIANZA Book Awards 2004 (Finalist)
Mini Guides – published by Penguin
NZPost Children's Book Awards 2008 (Finalist)
Nature Flip Guide series – published by Penguin 1998, 2008
Wild Stories series – published by Heinemann Education 1997
Patterns in Nature series – published by Longman Paul 1990
and in te reo Māori as
Ngā Tauira Taiao – published by Longman Paul 1991
Nature's Alphabet (NEW EDITION with more te reo!) – published by Bateman 2022
First published by Penguin 1998 (twice), 1999, 2003, 2008
- NZPost Children's Book Awards 1998 (Finalist)
The Dalai Lama Story – published by Longacre 2007
Ashton Wylie Award 2005 (Winner)
The Parks and Woodlands of London – Fourth Estate, London 1987
Earthkids – published by Penguin 1992
AIM Children's Book Awards 1993 (Finalist)
Margaret Mahy Medal
In 2009, Andrew Crowe received New Zealand's top honour for children's literature -- the Margaret Mahy Medal – the first non-fiction writer to receive this award. In the words of the judge, 'He has arguably done more to shape the format and accessibility of information in children’s non-fiction in New Zealand than any other author'.