maohi: hundreds attend tahiti parliament debate on science ethnic astronomy

Three to four hundred people attended a one day debate at the Assembly of French Polynesia on "The Polynesian Sky" and how science and tradition meet under it.
"We are agreeably surprised to see so many people today," said the president of Turu Ihi Proscience Association, Doctor Raymond Bagnis.
the basic idea was the meeting of two worlds: that of science and the universe of tradition. It is not a matter of checking how well founded Polynesian legends are scientifically but our purpose was to propose the role of collective memory.
It is interesting to see that constellations identical in various areas of the world they give place to different interpretations according to where one is at", said Dr Bagnis.
Sky and in particular the sun were at the heart of the debate, reports Tahiti Presse Agency.
"In Polynesia, the sun always played a significant role. One finds similarities with Egyptian civilization, the sun worshippers," said Dr Bagnis.
"But the Polynesians also knew the various constellations which enabled them to determine current and tides for navigation."
He said those impassioned with science should not follow it to the detriment of collective memory.
"The past should not be forgotten. To be making progress it is necessary to take account of people's lives. And for a technology to be well understood and accepted, it is not necessary to disconnect it from tradition," Dr Bagnis told debaters.
"Everyone played the game, the media as well as the people," said Dr Bagnis, with Tahiti Presse Agency reporting there was not enough room inside the assembly to fit all who came.
There was also a presentation from NASA astronaut Janice Voss.
As well as Bagnis' Proscience group, the day debate was organised by the ministry of Culture, Haururu association, Cercle d'investigation d'ethnoastronomie locale, CIEL, and society of astronomers of Tahiti, SAT.

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