N. VAN DIJK-Who are these people? Human skeletal remains from the Pacific region
(Wairau Bar) and modem New Zealanders. Discriminant function and generalised dis- tance analyses showed that New Zealand and the Chatham Islands clustered together, followed by Namu, while Tonga and the northern Marianas are in a completely separate group along with Wairau Bar. The Lapita material did not cluster with any of the popu- lation~.
These and other examples highlight the dangers inherent in collating skeletal material from varying parts of the Pacific, plugging them into statisticalpackages and expecting to produce biologically meaningful results - yet this is consistently being done. A recent paper on non-metrics (Hanihara 1992:121) has included as a sample a "Melanesian" population consisting of "Fiji, New-Hebrides, New Guinea, etc. (recent)".This is by no means a biologically meaningful sample.This leads to the issue of applying biologically meaningful terminology to Oceanic populations. One of the fundamental difficulties in interpreting much of the literature in the Pacific is the unfortunate precedent of belie- ving that there is some biological and cultural validity in the terms Polynesian, Melanesian and Micronesian, and to date a suitable solution has not been found.
Roger Green (1991) favours the terms "Near and Remote Oceania". Near Oceania com- prises the islands from New Guinea east to the end of the Solomons chain at San Cristobel this gap marking the western boundary of Remote Oceania. These are fairly broad categories but perhaps that is all that is possible considering the extreme biologi- cal diversity found in the region.
So how should samples for comparison be chosen? It is important to separate samples strictly according not only to island group (eg., Vanuatu) but also particular islands within the group (eg. Erromango, Malekula) and areas within these - in particular - according to their temporal associations. Statistically it will be interesting to note the effects of clumping or not clumping the samples and to see if the effect of increased sample size is offset by a lack of geographicltemporal accuracy.
Work currently in progress includes a non-metric, genetic and morphological compari- son of populations in Near Oceania and the western islands of Remote Oceania, with samples from Australia, Thailand and Eastern Polynesia as controls. I am particularly interested in populations not generally included in such analyses, due to their complex and admixtured biological history (for example the Polynesian Outlier - Namu). The aim being to look at Pacific populations across time and space with strict geographic and temporal control and to ask questions such as:
1. Is the non-metric, morphological and genetic evidence in agreement (and if not, why not?).
2. Does separating samples (within and between island groups and across time) makes any difference (and if so, how and why?).
3. What happens to known admixtured populations in statistical analyses - with whom do they show affinities? An example of the possible confusion surrounding this is the