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 everyone's surprise, Andrew 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
Recent New Zealand history books, including the award-winning Tangata Whenua (2014), continue to claim that Māori reached Aotearoa – New Zealand by accident. In Pathway of the Birds, science writer Andrew Crowe provides a readable summary of a wide range of evidence concerning the country's founding history – and that of the Pacific as a whole – a summary that brings out a very different story. In short, this book provides a comprehensive challenge to the popular claim that Polynesian voyagers were 'certainly heroic but not necessarily skilful', emphasising instead the unique capabilities of Pacific seafarers, in particular their ability to find and re-find incredibly small and/or remote maritime targets. Hawaiian master navigator Nainoa Thompson provides a neat summary of their methods: 'Everything you need to navigate is in nature. The question is, can you see it?' This book elaborates on this skill and how the natural world itself 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.
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. See promotional video for Hinemoana on YouTube. Hinemoana then went on to take part in the re-enacted arrival of Captain James Cook off Whitianga during New Zealand's Tuia 250 voyaging commemorations in 2019 – an event slated as highlighting the 'remarkable achievements of Polynesian sailors'.
The book's title, Pathway of the Birds, emphasises the deliberate nature of Polynesian exploration, navigation and settlement and is inspired by a traditional Tuamotuan voyaging chant of the same title.
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).
READER REVIEWS available at Goodreads
AND AVAILABLE WORLDWIDE
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AN ENGAGING READ
Pathway of the Birds bridges the gap between academic researchers and the general audience – Journal of the Polynesian Society
Absolutely one of the best books I have ever read. It has changed my relationship with the ocean – Radio New Zealand National: Best of 2019 ►Listen to whole podcast
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 [is] 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
Top Reads of 2018 – New Zealand Weekend Herald
Top Ten Non-Fiction for 2018 – Auckland Libraries
[Pathway of the Birds] surely succeeds in demonstrating the unrivalled voyaging capacities of Polynesians generally and Māori specifically – Journal of the Polynesian Society
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 – Journal of Anthropological Research
Very well written and illustrated, and comprehensively referenced... I highly recommend [it] for its readability and presentation – International Journal of Maritime History
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
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, Berkeley who also contributed the Foreword.
Beautifully researched, very in-depth... Crowe's linguistic knowledge is truly impressive – Lisa Matisoo-Smith, Head of the Department of Anatomy, University of Otago Radio review
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, Department of 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
OTHER BOOKS BY ANDREW CROWE
Which? series – published by Penguin
- Winner of AIM Children's Book Awards (1995)
- Winner of LIANZA Book Awards (2003)
- Winner of NZPost Children's Book Awards (2008)
- Finalist AIM Children's Book Awards (1995)
- Finalist NZLIA Book Awards (1996)
- Finalist NZPost Children's Book Awards (2002, 2003)
- Finalist Montana Book Awards (2002, 2003)
Life-Size Guides – published by Penguin
- Winner of LIANZA Book Awards (1998)
- Finalist GP Book Design Awards (1998)
- Finalist NZPost Children's Book Awards (1998, 2000, 2004, 2005)
- Finalist LIANZA Book Awards (2004)
Mini Guides (truly pocket-sized!) – published by Penguin
Finalist NZPost Children's Book Awards (2008)
Nature Flip Guide series – published by Penguin 1998, 2008
Wild Stories series – published by Heinemann Education 1997
- A Kiwi Has No Wings sold 25,000 copies
Patterns in Nature series – published by Longman Paul 1990
and in Māori as
Ngā Tauira Taiao – published by Longman Paul 1991
A Field Guide to the Native Edible Plants of New Zealand
– published by Penguin
- Andrew's first book was initally published as a hardback by Collins in 1981, then redesigned and republished in paperback by Hodder & Stoughton in 1990, redesigned again and republished as a hardback by Godwit in 1997, and since reprinted 18 times by Penguin from 2004. It is an usual print history, remaining in print for 40 years, going into 24 printings, and selling over 40,000 copies.
Nature's Alphabet – published by Penguin 1998, 2008
- Finalist NZPost Children's Book Awards 1998
Earthkids – published by Penguin 1992
Finalist AIM Children's Book Awards 1993
The Dalai Lama Story – published by Longacre 2007
Winner Ashton Wylie Award 2005
The Parks and Woodlands of London – Fourth Estate, London 1987
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.