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An Introduction to Polynesian Anthropology


The formation of a society for a specific interest depends upon the initiative of one or a few enthusiastic individuals who can induce others to join in sufficient number to provide adequate funds through membership fees to publish annual reports or, better still, to produce a journal. The first two ethnological societies formed in Polynesia were the Polynesian Society in New Zealand and the Hawaiian Historical Society in Honolulu, both in 1892. Later, in 1917, the French residents of Tahiti formed the Société des Études Ocean-iennes. These three societies have published much interesting and valuable material. They not only provide a means of placing short articles on perma-page 40nent and available record, but they raise the standard of accuracy by refusing to accept material bordering on fiction or the result of unrestrained imagination on the part of the contributor. Rarely, an article may be accepted in good faith which, after publication, is found to be spurious. A good example of the spurious is the article on the interpretation of the so-called Easter Island script which was perpetrated by Dr. A. Carroll and published in the first volume of the Polynesian Journal in 1892. Such mistakes are happily rare, and the standard of a society's publication owes much to a wise editor who is not too proud to consult others in moments of doubt.

The white inhabitants of Apia in Upolu, Western Samoa, formed the Samoan Society in 1923, but the population was not large enough to provide a sufficient membership to finance publication. Papers read before the society have been published in the journal of the Polynesian Society.