Polynesia
Overview
Polynesia is a subregion
Subregion
A subregion is a conceptual unit which derives from a larger region or continent and is usually based on location. Cardinal directions, such as south or southern, are commonly used to define a subregion.- United Nations subregions :...

 of Oceania
Oceania
Oceania is a region centered on the islands of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Conceptions of what constitutes Oceania range from the coral atolls and volcanic islands of the South Pacific to the entire insular region between Asia and the Americas, including Australasia and the Malay Archipelago...

, made up of over 1,000 island
Island
An island or isle is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, cays or keys. An island in a river or lake may be called an eyot , or holm...

s scattered over the central and southern Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

. The indigenous people who inhabit the islands of Polynesia are termed Polynesians
Polynesians
The Polynesian peoples is a grouping of various ethnic groups that speak Polynesian languages, a branch of the Oceanic languages within the Austronesian languages, and inhabit Polynesia. They number approximately 1,500,000 people...

 and they share many similar traits including language, culture and beliefs. Historically, they were experienced sailors and used stars to determine their night hours.

The term "Polynesia" was first used in 1756 by French writer Charles de Brosses
Charles de Brosses
Charles de Brosses, comte de Tournay, baron de Montfalcon, seigneur de Vezins et de Prevessin was a French writer of the 18th century.-Life:...

, and originally applied to all the islands of the Pacific
Pacific Islands
The Pacific Islands comprise 20,000 to 30,000 islands in the Pacific Ocean. The islands are also sometimes collectively called Oceania, although Oceania is sometimes defined as also including Australasia and the Malay Archipelago....

.
Encyclopedia
Polynesia is a subregion
Subregion
A subregion is a conceptual unit which derives from a larger region or continent and is usually based on location. Cardinal directions, such as south or southern, are commonly used to define a subregion.- United Nations subregions :...

 of Oceania
Oceania
Oceania is a region centered on the islands of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Conceptions of what constitutes Oceania range from the coral atolls and volcanic islands of the South Pacific to the entire insular region between Asia and the Americas, including Australasia and the Malay Archipelago...

, made up of over 1,000 island
Island
An island or isle is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, cays or keys. An island in a river or lake may be called an eyot , or holm...

s scattered over the central and southern Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

. The indigenous people who inhabit the islands of Polynesia are termed Polynesians
Polynesians
The Polynesian peoples is a grouping of various ethnic groups that speak Polynesian languages, a branch of the Oceanic languages within the Austronesian languages, and inhabit Polynesia. They number approximately 1,500,000 people...

 and they share many similar traits including language, culture and beliefs. Historically, they were experienced sailors and used stars to determine their night hours.

The term "Polynesia" was first used in 1756 by French writer Charles de Brosses
Charles de Brosses
Charles de Brosses, comte de Tournay, baron de Montfalcon, seigneur de Vezins et de Prevessin was a French writer of the 18th century.-Life:...

, and originally applied to all the islands of the Pacific
Pacific Islands
The Pacific Islands comprise 20,000 to 30,000 islands in the Pacific Ocean. The islands are also sometimes collectively called Oceania, although Oceania is sometimes defined as also including Australasia and the Malay Archipelago....

. In 1831, Jules Dumont d'Urville
Jules Dumont d'Urville
Jules Sébastien César Dumont d'Urville was a French explorer, naval officer and rear admiral, who explored the south and western Pacific, Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica.-Childhood:Dumont was born at Condé-sur-Noireau...

 proposed a restriction on its use during a lecture to the Geographical Society of Paris.

Geology

Polynesia is characterized by a small amount of land spread over 70 million square miles of Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

. Most Polynesian islands and archipelagos, including the Hawaiian islands
Hawaiian Islands
The Hawaiian Islands are an archipelago of eight major islands, several atolls, numerous smaller islets, and undersea seamounts in the North Pacific Ocean, extending some 1,500 miles from the island of Hawaii in the south to northernmost Kure Atoll...

 and Samoa
Samoan Islands
The Samoan Islands or Samoa Islands is an archipelago covering in the central South Pacific, forming part of Polynesia and the wider region of Oceania...

, are composed of volcanic islands built by hotspots
Hotspot (geology)
The places known as hotspots or hot spots in geology are volcanic regions thought to be fed by underlying mantle that is anomalously hot compared with the mantle elsewhere. They may be on, near to, or far from tectonic plate boundaries. There are two hypotheses to explain them...

. New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, Norfolk Island
Norfolk Island
Norfolk Island is a small island in the Pacific Ocean located between Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia. The island is part of the Commonwealth of Australia, but it enjoys a large degree of self-governance...

, and Ouvéa
Ouvéa
Ouvéa is a commune in the Loyalty Islands Province of New Caledonia, an overseas territory of France in the Pacific Ocean. The settlement of Fayaoué , on Ouvéa Island, is the administrative centre of the commune of Ouvéa. -Geography:...

, the Polynesian outlier near New Caledonia, are the unsubmerged portions of the largely sunken continent of Zealandia
Zealandia (continent)
Zealandia , also known as Tasmantis or the New Zealand continent, is a nearly submerged continental fragment that sank after breaking away from Australia 60–85 million years ago, having separated from Antarctica between 85 and 130 million years ago...

. Zealandia is believed to have mostly sunken by 23 mya and resurfaced geologically recently due to a change in the movements of the Pacific Plate
Pacific Plate
The Pacific Plate is an oceanic tectonic plate that lies beneath the Pacific Ocean. At 103 million square kilometres, it is the largest tectonic plate....

 in relation to the Indo-Australian plate
Indo-Australian Plate
The Indo-Australian Plate is a major tectonic plate that includes the continent of Australia and surrounding ocean, and extends northwest to include the Indian subcontinent and adjacent waters...

, which served to uplift the New Zealand portion. At first, the Pacific plate was subducted under the Australian plate. The Alpine Fault
Alpine Fault
The Alpine Fault is a geological fault, more specifically known as a right-lateral strike-slip fault, that runs almost the entire length of New Zealand's South Island. It forms a transform boundary between the Pacific Plate and the Indo-Australian Plate. Earthquakes along the fault, and the...

 that traverses the South Island is currently a transform fault
Transform fault
A transform fault or transform boundary, also known as conservative plate boundary since these faults neither create nor destroy lithosphere, is a type of fault whose relative motion is predominantly horizontal in either sinistral or dextral direction. Furthermore, transform faults end abruptly...

 while the convergent plate boundary from the North Island Northwards is a subduction zone called the Kermadec-Tonga Subduction Zone
Kermadec-Tonga Subduction Zone
The Kermadec-Tonga Subduction Zone is a convergent plate boundary which stretches from the North Island of New Zealand northward, and includes the Hikurangi Trough, the Kermadec Trench and the Tonga Trench...

. The volcanism associated with this subduction zone is the origin of the Kermadec
Kermadec Islands
The Kermadec Islands are a subtropical island arc in the South Pacific Ocean northeast of New Zealand's North Island, and a similar distance southwest of Tonga...

 and Tonga
Tonga
Tonga, officially the Kingdom of Tonga , is a state and an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, comprising 176 islands scattered over of ocean in the South Pacific...

n island archipelagos.

Out of about 117,000 or 118,000 square miles of land, over 103,000 square miles are within New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

. The Zealandia continent has approximately 1.4 million square miles of continental shelf. The oldest rocks in the region are found in New Zealand and are believed to be about 510 million years old. The oldest Polynesian rocks outside of Zealandia are to be found in the Hawaiian Emperor Seamount Chain, and are 80 million years old.

Geographic area

Polynesia is generally defined as the islands within the Polynesian Triangle
Polynesian Triangle
The Polynesian Triangle is a region of the Pacific Ocean with three island groups at its corners: Hawaii, Easter Island and New Zealand. It is often used as a simple way to define Polynesia....

 although there are some islands that are inhabited by Polynesian people situated outside the Polynesian Triangle. Geographically, the Polynesian Triangle is drawn by connecting the corners of the Hawaii
Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 and Easter Island
Easter Island
Easter Island is a Polynesian island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian triangle. A special territory of Chile that was annexed in 1888, Easter Island is famous for its 887 extant monumental statues, called moai, created by the early Rapanui people...

. The other main island groups located within the Polynesian Triangle are Samoa
Samoa
Samoa , officially the Independent State of Samoa, formerly known as Western Samoa is a country encompassing the western part of the Samoan Islands in the South Pacific Ocean. It became independent from New Zealand in 1962. The two main islands of Samoa are Upolu and one of the biggest islands in...

, Tonga
Tonga
Tonga, officially the Kingdom of Tonga , is a state and an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, comprising 176 islands scattered over of ocean in the South Pacific...

, the Cook Islands
Cook Islands
The Cook Islands is a self-governing parliamentary democracy in the South Pacific Ocean in free association with New Zealand...

, Tuvalu
Tuvalu
Tuvalu , formerly known as the Ellice Islands, is a Polynesian island nation located in the Pacific Ocean, midway between Hawaii and Australia. Its nearest neighbours are Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa and Fiji. It comprises four reef islands and five true atolls...

, Tokelau
Tokelau
Tokelau is a territory of New Zealand in the South Pacific Ocean that consists of three tropical coral atolls with a combined land area of 10 km2 and a population of approximately 1,400...

, Niue
Niue
Niue , is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean. It is commonly known as the "Rock of Polynesia", and inhabitants of the island call it "the Rock" for short. Niue is northeast of New Zealand in a triangle between Tonga to the southwest, the Samoas to the northwest, and the Cook Islands to...

, Wallis and Futuna
Wallis and Futuna
Wallis and Futuna, officially the Territory of the Wallis and Futuna Islands , is a Polynesian French island territory in the South Pacific between Tuvalu to the northwest, Rotuma of Fiji to the west, the main part of Fiji to the southwest, Tonga to the southeast,...

 and French Polynesia
French Polynesia
French Polynesia is an overseas country of the French Republic . It is made up of several groups of Polynesian islands, the most famous island being Tahiti in the Society Islands group, which is also the most populous island and the seat of the capital of the territory...

.

There are also small Polynesian settlements in Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea , officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands...

, the Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands is a sovereign state in Oceania, east of Papua New Guinea, consisting of nearly one thousand islands. It covers a land mass of . The capital, Honiara, is located on the island of Guadalcanal...

, The Caroline Islands
Caroline Islands
The Caroline Islands are a widely scattered archipelago of tiny islands in the western Pacific Ocean, to the north of New Guinea. Politically they are divided between the Federated States of Micronesia in the eastern part of the group, and Palau at the extreme western end...

, and in Vanuatu
Vanuatu
Vanuatu , officially the Republic of Vanuatu , is an island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean. The archipelago, which is of volcanic origin, is some east of northern Australia, northeast of New Caledonia, west of Fiji, and southeast of the Solomon Islands, near New Guinea.Vanuatu was...

. An island group with strong Polynesian cultural traits outside of this great triangle is Rotuma
Rotuma
Rotuma is a Fijian dependency, consisting of Rotuma Island and nearby islets. The island group is home to a small but unique indigenous ethnic group which constitutes a recognizable minority within the population of Fiji, known as "Rotumans"...

; situated north of Fiji
Fiji
Fiji , officially the Republic of Fiji , is an island nation in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean about northeast of New Zealand's North Island...

. The people of Rotuma have many common Polynesian traits but speak a non-Polynesian language. Some of the Lau Islands
Lau Islands
The Lau Islands of Fiji are situated in the southern Pacific Ocean, just east of the Koro Sea. Of this chain of about one hundred islands and islets, about thirty are inhabited...

 to the southeast of Fiji have strong historic and cultural links with Tonga.

However, in essence, Polynesia is a cultural term referring to one of the three parts of Oceania
Oceania
Oceania is a region centered on the islands of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Conceptions of what constitutes Oceania range from the coral atolls and volcanic islands of the South Pacific to the entire insular region between Asia and the Americas, including Australasia and the Malay Archipelago...

 (the others being Micronesia
Micronesia
Micronesia is a subregion of Oceania, comprising thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It is distinct from Melanesia to the south, and Polynesia to the east. The Philippines lie to the west, and Indonesia to the southwest....

 and Melanesia
Melanesia
Melanesia is a subregion of Oceania extending from the western end of the Pacific Ocean to the Arafura Sea, and eastward to Fiji. The region comprises most of the islands immediately north and northeast of Australia...

). DNA studies suggest that the indigenous Pacific Islands population migrated from Taiwan thousands of years ago and dispersed throughout the region into three distinct cultural groups.

Island groups

The following are the islands and island groups, either nations or overseas territories of former colonial powers, that are of native Polynesian culture or where archaeological evidence indicates Polynesian settlement in the past. Some islands of Polynesian origin are outside the general triangle that geographically defines the region.

Main Polynesia

  • American Samoa
    American Samoa
    American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of the sovereign state of Samoa...

     (overseas United States territory)
  • Cook Islands
    Cook Islands
    The Cook Islands is a self-governing parliamentary democracy in the South Pacific Ocean in free association with New Zealand...

     (self-governing state in free association
    Associated state
    An associated state is the minor partner in a formal, free relationship between a political territory with a degree of statehood and a nation, for which no other specific term, such as protectorate, is adopted...

     with New Zealand
    New Zealand
    New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

    )
  • Easter Island
    Easter Island
    Easter Island is a Polynesian island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian triangle. A special territory of Chile that was annexed in 1888, Easter Island is famous for its 887 extant monumental statues, called moai, created by the early Rapanui people...

     (called Rapa Nui in Rapa Nui
    Rapa Nui language
    Rapa Nui , also known as Pascuan or Pascuense, is an Eastern Polynesian language spoken on the island of Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island....

    , politically part of Chile
    Chile
    Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

    )
  • French Polynesia
    French Polynesia
    French Polynesia is an overseas country of the French Republic . It is made up of several groups of Polynesian islands, the most famous island being Tahiti in the Society Islands group, which is also the most populous island and the seat of the capital of the territory...

     ("overseas territory", a territory of France
    France
    The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

    )
  • Hawaii
    Hawaii
    Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

     (a state
    U.S. state
    A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

     of the United States)
  • New Zealand
    New Zealand
    New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

     (independent nation)
  • Niue
    Niue
    Niue , is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean. It is commonly known as the "Rock of Polynesia", and inhabitants of the island call it "the Rock" for short. Niue is northeast of New Zealand in a triangle between Tonga to the southwest, the Samoas to the northwest, and the Cook Islands to...

     (self-governing state in free association
    Associated state
    An associated state is the minor partner in a formal, free relationship between a political territory with a degree of statehood and a nation, for which no other specific term, such as protectorate, is adopted...

     with New Zealand)
  • Norfolk Island
    Norfolk Island
    Norfolk Island is a small island in the Pacific Ocean located between Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia. The island is part of the Commonwealth of Australia, but it enjoys a large degree of self-governance...

     (an Australian External Territory)
  • Pitcairn Islands
    Pitcairn Islands
    The Pitcairn Islands , officially named the Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands, form a group of four volcanic islands in the southern Pacific Ocean. The islands are a British Overseas Territory and overseas territory of the European Union in the Pacific...

     (a British Overseas Territory
    British overseas territories
    The British Overseas Territories are fourteen territories of the United Kingdom which, although they do not form part of the United Kingdom itself, fall under its jurisdiction. They are remnants of the British Empire that have not acquired independence or have voted to remain British territories...

    )
  • Samoa
    Samoa
    Samoa , officially the Independent State of Samoa, formerly known as Western Samoa is a country encompassing the western part of the Samoan Islands in the South Pacific Ocean. It became independent from New Zealand in 1962. The two main islands of Samoa are Upolu and one of the biggest islands in...

     (independent nation)
  • Tokelau
    Tokelau
    Tokelau is a territory of New Zealand in the South Pacific Ocean that consists of three tropical coral atolls with a combined land area of 10 km2 and a population of approximately 1,400...

     (overseas dependency of New Zealand)
  • Tonga
    Tonga
    Tonga, officially the Kingdom of Tonga , is a state and an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, comprising 176 islands scattered over of ocean in the South Pacific...

     (independent nation)
  • Tuvalu
    Tuvalu
    Tuvalu , formerly known as the Ellice Islands, is a Polynesian island nation located in the Pacific Ocean, midway between Hawaii and Australia. Its nearest neighbours are Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa and Fiji. It comprises four reef islands and five true atolls...

     (independent nation)
  • Wallis and Futuna
    Wallis and Futuna
    Wallis and Futuna, officially the Territory of the Wallis and Futuna Islands , is a Polynesian French island territory in the South Pacific between Tuvalu to the northwest, Rotuma of Fiji to the west, the main part of Fiji to the southwest, Tonga to the southeast,...

     (overseas territory of France)

In Melanesia
  • Anuta
    Anuta
    Anuta is a small high island in the southeastern part of the Solomon Islands province of Temotu, the smallest permanently inhabited isolated Polynesian island.-Description:...

     (in the Solomon Islands
    Solomon Islands
    Solomon Islands is a sovereign state in Oceania, east of Papua New Guinea, consisting of nearly one thousand islands. It covers a land mass of . The capital, Honiara, is located on the island of Guadalcanal...

    )
  • Mele (in Vanuatu
    Vanuatu
    Vanuatu , officially the Republic of Vanuatu , is an island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean. The archipelago, which is of volcanic origin, is some east of northern Australia, northeast of New Caledonia, west of Fiji, and southeast of the Solomon Islands, near New Guinea.Vanuatu was...

    )
  • Bellona Island
    Bellona Island
    Bellona Island is an island of the Rennell and Bellona Province, Solomon Islands. Its length is about 10 km and its average width 2.5 km. Its area is about 17 km². It is almost totally surrounded by 30–70 m high cliffs, consisting primarily of raised coral...

     (in the Solomon Islands)
  • Emae
    Emae
    Emae is an island in the Shepherds Islands, Shefa, Vanuatu. Maunga Lasi is the highest peak at 644 m. It forms the northern rim of the underwater volcano of Makura, which also covers the nearby islands of Makura and Mataso...

     (in Vanuatu)
  • Nuguria
    Nuguria
    Nuguria or the Nuguria Islands, also known as the Abgarris or Fead Islands, are a Polynesian outlier and islands of Papua New Guinea. They are located nearly 200 km northeast of New Ireland and consist of two closely spaced atoll formations....

     (in Papua New Guinea
    Papua New Guinea
    Papua New Guinea , officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands...

    )
  • Nukumanu (in Papua New Guinea)
  • Ontong Java (in the Solomon Islands)
  • Pileni
    Pileni
    Pileni is a culturally important island in the Reef Islands, in the northern part of the Solomon Islands province of Temotu. Despite its location in Melanesia, the population of the islands is Polynesian.-Language:...

     (in the Solomon Islands)
  • Rennell (in the Solomon Islands)
  • Sikaiana
    Sikaiana
    Sikaiana formerly called Stewart Islands is a small atoll 212 km NE of Malaita. It is almost 14 km in length and its lagoon, known as Te Moana, is totally enclosed by the coral reef. Its total land surface is only 2 km2...

     (in the Solomon Islands)
  • Takuu
    Takuu
    Tauu, pronounced , known also as Takuu Mortlock or Marqueen Islands, is a small, isolated atoll off the east coast of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea.-Geography:...

     (in Papua New Guinea)
  • Tikopia
    Tikopia
    Tikopia is a small and high island in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. Covering an area of 5 km² , the island is the remnant of an extinct volcano. Its highest point, Mt. Reani, reaches an elevation of 380 m above sea level. Lake Te Roto covers an old volcanic crater which is 80 m...

     (in the Solomon Islands)
  • Rotuma
    Rotuma
    Rotuma is a Fijian dependency, consisting of Rotuma Island and nearby islets. The island group is home to a small but unique indigenous ethnic group which constitutes a recognizable minority within the population of Fiji, known as "Rotumans"...

     (in the Fiji Islands)

In Micronesia
  • Kapingamarangi
    Kapingamarangi
    Kapingamarangi is an atoll and a municipality in the state of Pohnpei of the Federated States of Micronesia. It is by far the most southerly atoll or island of the country and of the Caroline Islands, 300 km south of the next southerly atoll, Nukuoro, and 740 km southwest of the main island of...

     (in the Federated States of Micronesia
    Federated States of Micronesia
    The Federated States of Micronesia or FSM is an independent, sovereign island nation, made up of four states from west to east: Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae. It comprises approximately 607 islands with c...

    )
  • Nukuoro
    Nukuoro
    Nukuoro is an atoll in the Federated States of Micronesia.It is a municipality of the state of Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia. Except for Kapingamarangi, it is the southermost atoll of the country. Nukuoro has a population of 372 , though several hundred Nukuorans live on Pohnpei...

     (in the Federated States of Micronesia)

Subantarctic Islands
  • Antipodes Islands
    Antipodes Islands
    The Antipodes Islands are inhospitable volcanic islands to the south of—and territorially part of—New Zealand...

  • Auckland Islands
    Auckland Islands
    The Auckland Islands are an archipelago of the New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands and include Auckland Island, Adams Island, Enderby Island, Disappointment Island, Ewing Island, Rose Island, Dundas Island and Green Island, with a combined area of...

     (the most southerly known evidence of Polynesian settlement)

Mainstream theories

The Polynesian people are considered to be by ancestry a subset of the sea-migrating Austronesian people
Austronesian people
The Austronesian-speaking peoples are various populations in Oceania and Southeast Asia that speak languages of the Austronesian family. They include Taiwanese aborigines; the majority ethnic groups of East Timor, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, Madagascar, Micronesia, and Polynesia,...

 and the tracing of Polynesian languages
Polynesian languages
The Polynesian languages are a language family spoken in the region known as Polynesia. They are classified as part of the Austronesian family, belonging to the Oceanic branch of that family. They fall into two branches: Tongic and Nuclear Polynesian. Polynesians share many cultural traits...

 places their prehistoric
Prehistory
Prehistory is the span of time before recorded history. Prehistory can refer to the period of human existence before the availability of those written records with which recorded history begins. More broadly, it refers to all the time preceding human existence and the invention of writing...

 origins in the Malay Archipelago
Malay Archipelago
The Malay Archipelago refers to the archipelago between mainland Southeastern Asia and Australia. The name was derived from the anachronistic concept of a Malay race....

.

There are three theories regarding the spread of humans across the Pacific to Polynesia. These are outlined well by Kayser et al. (2000) and are as follows:
  • Express Train model: A recent (c. 3,000 years ago) expansion out of Southeast Asia, predominantly Taiwan
    Taiwan
    Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

    , via Melanesia
    Melanesia
    Melanesia is a subregion of Oceania extending from the western end of the Pacific Ocean to the Arafura Sea, and eastward to Fiji. The region comprises most of the islands immediately north and northeast of Australia...

     but with little genetic admixture between those migrating and the existing native population, reaching western Polynesian islands around 2,000 years ago. This theory is supported by the majority of current genetic, linguistic
    Austronesian languages
    The Austronesian languages are a language family widely dispersed throughout the islands of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, with a few members spoken on continental Asia that are spoken by about 386 million people. It is on par with Indo-European, Niger-Congo, Afroasiatic and Uralic as one of the...

    , and archaeological data.
  • Entangled Bank model: Supposes a long history of cultural and genetic interactions amongst southeast Asians, Melanesians, and already-established Polynesians.
  • Slow Boat model: Similar to the express-train model but with a longer hiatus in Melanesia along with admixture, both genetically, culturally and linguistically with the local population. This is supported by the Y-chromosome data of Kayser et al. (2000), which shows that all three haplotype
    Haplotype
    A haplotype in genetics is a combination of alleles at adjacent locations on the chromosome that are transmitted together...

    s of Polynesian Y chromosomes can be traced back to Melanesia


Between about 3000 and 1000 BC speakers of Austronesian languages
Austronesian languages
The Austronesian languages are a language family widely dispersed throughout the islands of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, with a few members spoken on continental Asia that are spoken by about 386 million people. It is on par with Indo-European, Niger-Congo, Afroasiatic and Uralic as one of the...

 spread throughout the islands of Southeast Asia. These people, according to linguistic and archaeological evidence, originated from aborigines in Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

 as tribes whose natives
Taiwanese aborigines
Taiwanese aborigines is the term commonly applied in reference to the indigenous peoples of Taiwan. Although Taiwanese indigenous groups hold a variety of creation myths, recent research suggests their ancestors may have been living on the islands for approximately 8,000 years before major Han...

 were thought to have arrived through South China about 8,000 years ago to the edges of western Micronesia
Micronesia
Micronesia is a subregion of Oceania, comprising thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It is distinct from Melanesia to the south, and Polynesia to the east. The Philippines lie to the west, and Indonesia to the southwest....

 and on into Melanesia
Melanesia
Melanesia is a subregion of Oceania extending from the western end of the Pacific Ocean to the Arafura Sea, and eastward to Fiji. The region comprises most of the islands immediately north and northeast of Australia...

, although they are different from the Han Chinese
Han Chinese
Han Chinese are an ethnic group native to China and are the largest single ethnic group in the world.Han Chinese constitute about 92% of the population of the People's Republic of China , 98% of the population of the Republic of China , 78% of the population of Singapore, and about 20% of the...

 who now form the majority of people in China and Taiwan. In fact Taiwan, previously inhabited mostly by non-Han aborigines, was Sinicized via large-scale migration accompanied with assimilation during the 17th century.
In the archaeological record there are well-defined traces of this expansion which allow the path it took to be followed and dated with a degree of certainty. It is thought that roughly 3,500 years ago, the Lapita
Lapita
Lapita is a term applied to an ancient Pacific Ocean archaeological culture which is believed by many archaeologists to be the common ancestor of several cultures in Polynesia, Micronesia, and some coastal areas of Melanesia...

 culture appeared in the Bismarck Archipelago
Bismarck Archipelago
The Bismarck Archipelago is a group of islands off the northeastern coast of New Guinea in the western Pacific Ocean and is part of the Islands Region of Papua New Guinea.-History:...

, northwest Melanesia. This culture is argued to have either been developed there or, more likely, to have spread from China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

/Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

. The most eastern site for Lapita archaeological remains recovered so far through archaeology in Samoa
Archaeology in Samoa
Archaeology of Samoa began with the first systematic survey of archaeological remains on Savai'i island by Jack Golson in 1957. Since then, surveys and studies in the rest of Samoa have uncovered major findings of settlements, stone and earth mounds including star mounds, Lapita pottery remains and...

 is at Mulifanua
Mulifanua
Mulifanua is a village on the north-western tip of the island of Upolu, in Samoa. In the modern era, it is the capital of Aiga-i-le-Tai district...

 on Upolu
Upolu
Upolu is an island in Samoa, formed by a massive basaltic shield volcano which rises from the seafloor of the western Pacific Ocean. The island is long, in area, and is the second largest in geographic area as well as the most populated of the Samoan Islands. Upolu is situated to the east of...

. The Mulifanua site, where 4,288 pottery shards have been found and studied, has a true age of circa 3,000 BP based on C14 dating.

Within a mere three or four centuries between about 1300 and 900 BC, the Lapita culture spread 6,000 km further to the east from the Bismarck Archipelago, until it reached as far as Fiji
Fiji
Fiji , officially the Republic of Fiji , is an island nation in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean about northeast of New Zealand's North Island...

, Tonga
Tonga
Tonga, officially the Kingdom of Tonga , is a state and an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, comprising 176 islands scattered over of ocean in the South Pacific...

, and Samoa which were populated around 2,000 years ago. In this region, the distinctive Polynesian culture developed.

The spread of pottery and domesticates in Polynesia are connected with the Lapita
Lapita
Lapita is a term applied to an ancient Pacific Ocean archaeological culture which is believed by many archaeologists to be the common ancestor of several cultures in Polynesia, Micronesia, and some coastal areas of Melanesia...

 culture that started expanding from New Guinea
New Guinea
New Guinea is the world's second largest island, after Greenland, covering a land area of 786,000 km2. Located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, it lies geographically to the east of the Malay Archipelago, with which it is sometimes included as part of a greater Indo-Australian Archipelago...

 to as far east as Fiji
Fiji
Fiji , officially the Republic of Fiji , is an island nation in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean about northeast of New Zealand's North Island...

, Samoa
Samoa
Samoa , officially the Independent State of Samoa, formerly known as Western Samoa is a country encompassing the western part of the Samoan Islands in the South Pacific Ocean. It became independent from New Zealand in 1962. The two main islands of Samoa are Upolu and one of the biggest islands in...

, and Tonga
Tonga
Tonga, officially the Kingdom of Tonga , is a state and an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, comprising 176 islands scattered over of ocean in the South Pacific...

. During this time the aspects of the Polynesian culture developed. Around 300 BC this new Polynesian people spread eastward from Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga to the Cook Islands
Cook Islands
The Cook Islands is a self-governing parliamentary democracy in the South Pacific Ocean in free association with New Zealand...

, Tahiti
Tahiti
Tahiti is the largest island in the Windward group of French Polynesia, located in the archipelago of the Society Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean. It is the economic, cultural and political centre of French Polynesia. The island was formed from volcanic activity and is high and mountainous...

, the Tuamotus
Tuamotus
The Tuamotus or the Tuamotu Archipelago are a chain of islands and atolls in French Polynesia. They form the largest chain of atolls in the world, spanning an area of the Pacific Ocean roughly the size of Western Europe...

, and the Marquesas Islands
Marquesas Islands
The Marquesas Islands enana and Te Fenua `Enata , both meaning "The Land of Men") are a group of volcanic islands in French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France in the southern Pacific Ocean. The Marquesas are located at 9° 00S, 139° 30W...

. This was supported by Patrick Kirch and Marshall Weisler when they performed X-ray
X-ray
X-radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation. X-rays have a wavelength in the range of 0.01 to 10 nanometers, corresponding to frequencies in the range 30 petahertz to 30 exahertz and energies in the range 120 eV to 120 keV. They are shorter in wavelength than UV rays and longer than gamma...

 fluorescence sourcing of basalt
Basalt
Basalt is a common extrusive volcanic rock. It is usually grey to black and fine-grained due to rapid cooling of lava at the surface of a planet. It may be porphyritic containing larger crystals in a fine matrix, or vesicular, or frothy scoria. Unweathered basalt is black or grey...

 artifacts found on both islands.

The dating of the settlement of Eastern Polynesia, including Hawai'i, Easter Island
Easter Island
Easter Island is a Polynesian island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian triangle. A special territory of Chile that was annexed in 1888, Easter Island is famous for its 887 extant monumental statues, called moai, created by the early Rapanui people...

, and New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 is not agreed; most recently a 2010 study using a meta-analysis
Meta-analysis
In statistics, a meta-analysis combines the results of several studies that address a set of related research hypotheses. In its simplest form, this is normally by identification of a common measure of effect size, for which a weighted average might be the output of a meta-analyses. Here the...

 of the most reliable radiocarbon dates
Radiocarbon dating
Radiocarbon dating is a radiometric dating method that uses the naturally occurring radioisotope carbon-14 to estimate the age of carbon-bearing materials up to about 58,000 to 62,000 years. Raw, i.e. uncalibrated, radiocarbon ages are usually reported in radiocarbon years "Before Present" ,...

 available suggested that the colonization of Eastern Polynesia (including Hawaii and New Zealand) instead proceeded in two short episodes: in the Society Islands
Society Islands
The Society Islands are a group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean. They are politically part of French Polynesia. The archipelago is generally believed to have been named by Captain James Cook in honor of the Royal Society, the sponsor of the first British scientific survey of the islands;...

 from 1025–1120 and further afield from 1190–1290, with Easter Island being settled around 1200. It has been suggested that these migrations were driven by ciguatera
Ciguatera
Ciguatera is a foodborne illness caused by eating certain reef fishes whose flesh is contaminated with toxins originally produced by dinoflagellates such as Gambierdiscus toxicus which lives in tropical and subtropical waters. These dinoflagellates adhere to coral, algae and seaweed, where they are...

 poisoning (reef fish became poisonous), which in turn was caused by climate cooling. Traditional archeological theories, which are contradicted by the more recent radiocarbon dating suggests a date of between 300 and 500 AD, or alternatively 800 AD (as supported by Jared Diamond
Jared Diamond
Jared Mason Diamond is an American scientist and author whose work draws from a variety of fields. He is currently Professor of Geography and Physiology at UCLA...

) for the settlement of Easter Island, and similarly, a date of 500 AD has been suggested for Hawaii.

Political history of Polynesia

The Lapita culture in Fiji (3500 BCE) and in much of Melanesia was largely displaced by Austronesian-speaking New Guinea
New Guinea
New Guinea is the world's second largest island, after Greenland, covering a land area of 786,000 km2. Located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, it lies geographically to the east of the Malay Archipelago, with which it is sometimes included as part of a greater Indo-Australian Archipelago...

 and/or Solomon Island aborigines around 4500 years ago. (See: Lapita
Lapita
Lapita is a term applied to an ancient Pacific Ocean archaeological culture which is believed by many archaeologists to be the common ancestor of several cultures in Polynesia, Micronesia, and some coastal areas of Melanesia...

, History of Fiji
History of Fiji
The timeline below shows the history of Fiji, from ancient times to the present day. For a more detailed analysis, follow the links under each heading to the related articles.- Pre history to 1820 and recent archeology :...

.)

Perhaps the oldest extensive political entity was that of the Samoa-based Tu'i Manu'a Confederacy, ruled by the holders of the Tu'i Manu'a title, which may well be the oldest chieftain title in Polynesia. This confederacy likely included much of Western Polynesia and some outliers at the height of its power in the 10th and 11th centuries; most notably: the Samoa
Samoa
Samoa , officially the Independent State of Samoa, formerly known as Western Samoa is a country encompassing the western part of the Samoan Islands in the South Pacific Ocean. It became independent from New Zealand in 1962. The two main islands of Samoa are Upolu and one of the biggest islands in...

, Tonga
Tonga
Tonga, officially the Kingdom of Tonga , is a state and an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, comprising 176 islands scattered over of ocean in the South Pacific...

, Lau Islands
Lau Islands
The Lau Islands of Fiji are situated in the southern Pacific Ocean, just east of the Koro Sea. Of this chain of about one hundred islands and islets, about thirty are inhabited...

 and perhaps the main islands of Fiji. The Tongans revolted around 1000 years ago and formed their own Tu'i Tonga
Tu'i Tonga
The Tui Tonga is a line of Tongan kings, which originated in the 10th century with the mythical Ahoeitu; withdrew from political power in the 15th century by yielding to the Tui Haatakalaua; and died out with Laufilitonga in 1865...

 empire that came to dominate Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji, with an influence stretching from Nauru
Nauru
Nauru , officially the Republic of Nauru and formerly known as Pleasant Island, is an island country in Micronesia in the South Pacific. Its nearest neighbour is Banaba Island in Kiribati, to the east. Nauru is the world's smallest republic, covering just...

 in the Northwest, to Niue
Niue
Niue , is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean. It is commonly known as the "Rock of Polynesia", and inhabitants of the island call it "the Rock" for short. Niue is northeast of New Zealand in a triangle between Tonga to the southwest, the Samoas to the northwest, and the Cook Islands to...

 in the East. The empire ruled for much of the Medieval period, until the Samoan revolt and subsequent rise of the Malietoa
Malietoa
Malietoa is a state dynasty and chiefly title in Samoa. Literally translated as "great warrior," the title's origin comes from the final words of the Tongan warriors as they were fleeing on the beach to their boats, "Malie To`a, Malie tau"....

 dynasties in Samoa, and ended with their capitulation to the Tongan Tu'i Ha'atakalaua
Tu'i Ha'atakalaua
The Tui Haatakalaua was a dynasty of Tongan kings, which originated in the 15th century by taking over the power from the Tui Tonga line. Lost the power in 16th century to the Tui Kanokupolu dynasty, and disappeared into nothingness by the end of the 18th century.#Moungāmotua – around 1470; might...

 dynasty in the 15th century.

Tonga 1500s-present

After a bloody civil war, political power in Tonga eventually fell under the Tu'i Kanokupolu
Tu'i Kanokupolu
The Ha'a Tu'i Kanokupolu is the most junior of the Ha'a Tu'i in Tonga. They are generally refer to as the Kau Halalalo The Ha'a Tu'i Tonga, the most senior and Sacred Ha'a Tu'i in Tonga are generally refer to as the Kauhala'uta, The inland side of the roads...

 dynasty in the 16th century.

In 1845 the ambitious young warrior, strategist, and orator Tāufaʻāhau united Tonga into more Western-style kingdom. He held the chiefly title of Tuʻi Kanokupolu, but had been baptised[by whom?] with the name Jiaoji ("George") in 1831. In 1875, with the help of missionary Shirley Waldemar Baker
Shirley Waldemar Baker
Shirley Waldemar Baker was a missionary and premier of Tonga.-Early life:Baker was born in London, England of a Devonshire family. He studied medicine, went to Australia in 1852 as a stowaway. He worked as a farm hand, miner and apothecary's assistant on the goldfields in Victoria...

, he declared Tonga a constitutional monarchy, formally adopted the western royal style, emancipated the "serfs", enshrined a code of law, land tenure, and freedom of the press, and limited the power of the chiefs.

Tonga became a British-protected state under a Treaty of Friendship on 18 May 1900, when European settlers and rival Tongan chiefs tried to oust the second king. Within the British Empire, which posted no higher permanent representative on Tonga than a British Consul (1901–1970), Tonga formed part of the British Western Pacific Territories
British Western Pacific Territories
The British Western Pacific Territories was the name of a colonial entity, created in 1877, for the administration, under a single representative of the British Crown, styled High Commissioner, of a series of relatively minor Pacific islands in and around Oceania...

 (under a colonial High Commissioner, residing on Fiji) from 1901 until 1952. Despite being under the protectorate, Tonga retained its monarchy without interruption.

On June 4, 1970 the Kingdom of Tonga received independence from the British protectorate.

Samoa Malietoa-present

Samoa remained under Malietoa chieftains until its East-West division by Tripartite Convention (1899) subsequent annexation by the German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 and the United States. The German-controlled Western portion of Samoa (the consisting of the bulk of Samoan territory) was occupied by New Zealand in WWI, and administered by it under a Class C League of Nations Mandate
League of Nations mandate
A League of Nations mandate was a legal status for certain territories transferred from the control of one country to another following World War I, or the legal instruments that contained the internationally agreed-upon terms for administering the territory on behalf of the League...

 until receiving independence on January 1, 1962. The new Independent State of Samoa was not a monarchy, though the Malietoa title-holder remained very influential. It officially ended, however with the death of Malietoa Tanumafili II on May 11, 2007.

New Zealand Maori

On October 28, 1835 members of the Ngā Puhi and surrounding iwi issued a "declaration of independence", as a "confederation of tribes" to resist potential French colonization efforts and to prevent the ships and cargo of Maori merchants from being seized at foreign ports. They received recognition from the British monarch in 1836. (See United Tribes of New Zealand
United Tribes of New Zealand
The United Tribes of New Zealand was a loose confederation of Māori tribes based in the north of the North Island.- History :The confederation was convened in 1834 by British Resident James Busby...

, New Zealand Declaration of Independence
Declaration of the Independence of New Zealand
In New Zealand political and social history, the Declaration of the Independence of New Zealand , was signed by a number of Māori chiefs in 1835, proclaimed the sovereign independence of New Zealand prior to the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840....

, James Busby
James Busby
James Busby is widely regarded as the "father" of the Australian wine industry, as he took the first collection of vine stock from Spain and France to Australia. Later he become a British Resident who traveled to New Zealand, involved in the drafting of the Declaration of the Independence of New...

.)

Using the Treaty of Waitangi
Treaty of Waitangi
The Treaty of Waitangi is a treaty first signed on 6 February 1840 by representatives of the British Crown and various Māori chiefs from the North Island of New Zealand....

 and right of discovery
Terra nullius
Terra nullius is a Latin expression deriving from Roman law meaning "land belonging to no one" , which is used in international law to describe territory which has never been subject to the sovereignty of any state, or over which any prior sovereign has expressly or implicitly relinquished...

 as a basis, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 annexed New Zealand as a part of New South Wales
New South Wales
New South Wales is a state of :Australia, located in the east of the country. It is bordered by Queensland, Victoria and South Australia to the north, south and west respectively. To the east, the state is bordered by the Tasman Sea, which forms part of the Pacific Ocean. New South Wales...

 in 1840.

In response to the actions of the colonial government, Maori looked to form monarchy inclusive of all Maori tribes in order to reduce vulnerability to the British divide-and-conquer strategy. Pōtatau Te Wherowhero
Potatau Te Wherowhero
Pōtatau I, Māori King was a Māori warrior, leader of the Waikato tribes, the first Māori King and founder of the Te Wherowhero royal dynasty. He was first known as simply Te Wherowhero and took the name Pōtatau after he became king...

 high priest and chief of the Ngāti Mahuta
Ngati Mahuta
Ngāti Mahuta is a sub-tribe of the Waikato tribe of Māori in the North Island of New Zealand ....

 tribe of the Waikato
Waikato
The Waikato Region is a local government region of the upper North Island of New Zealand. It covers the Waikato, Hauraki, Coromandel Peninsula, the northern King Country, much of the Taupo District, and parts of Rotorua District...

 iwi was crowned as the Maori king in 1858. The king's territory consisted primarily of the lands in the center of the North Island, and the iwi constituted from the most powerful non-signatories of the Treaty of Waitangi, with Te Wherowhero also never having signed it. (See Kingitanga.)

All tribes were pressed into subjection to the colonial government by the late 19th century. Although Maori were given the privilege of being legally enfranchised subjects of the British Empire under the Treaty, Maori culture and language were actively suppressed by the colonial government and by economic and social pressures from the Pakeha
Pakeha
Pākehā is a Māori language word for New Zealanders who are "of European descent". They are mostly descended from British and to a lesser extent Irish settlers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, although some Pākehā have Dutch, Scandinavian, German, Yugoslav or other ancestry...

 society until efforts were made to preserve indigenous culture starting in the late 1950s and culminating in the Waitangi Tribunal
Waitangi Tribunal
The Waitangi Tribunal is a New Zealand permanent commission of inquiry established under the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975...

's interpretation of language and culture being included in the treasures set to be preserved under the Treaty of Waitangi. Moving from a low point of 15,000 speakers in the 1970s, there are now over 157,000 people who have some proficiency in the standard Māori language
Maori language
Māori or te reo Māori , commonly te reo , is the language of the indigenous population of New Zealand, the Māori. It has the status of an official language in New Zealand...

 according to the 2006 census in New Zealand, due in large part to government recognition and promotion of the language.

Maori are very much integrated into New Zealand society, and many are of mixed Maori and European, Asian, or Pacific Islander heritage. The New Zealand Defense forces are over half Maori, and the New Zealand Special Forces are 2/3 Maori. Jerry Mateparae
Jerry Mateparae
Lieutenant General Sir Jeremiah "Jerry" Mateparae, GNZM, QSO is New Zealand's 20th Governor-General. He was Chief of the New Zealand Defence Force between 2006 and 2011, the first Māori person to hold the office, and the Director of the New Zealand Government Communications Security Bureau from 7...

, the former chief of the armed forces, now serves as Governor-General of New Zealand
Governor-General of New Zealand
The Governor-General of New Zealand is the representative of the monarch of New Zealand . The Governor-General acts as the Queen's vice-regal representative in New Zealand and is often viewed as the de facto head of state....

. A Canadian delegation was sent to New Zealand in order to gather information on New Zealand's recruiting process and culture at large in order to create a plan to increase the proportion of Canadian Aboriginals in its armed forces. However, despite major achievements towards equality, Maori are still under-represented in many fields.

Fiji

(See: History of Fiji
History of Fiji
The timeline below shows the history of Fiji, from ancient times to the present day. For a more detailed analysis, follow the links under each heading to the related articles.- Pre history to 1820 and recent archeology :...

, Seru Epenisa Cakobau
Seru Epenisa Cakobau
Ratu Seru Epenisa Cakobau was a Fijian Ratu and warlord who united part of Fiji's warring tribes under his leadership, establishing a united Fijian kingdom.-Background:...

, Fiji during the time of Cakobau
Fiji during the time of Cakobau
The first three quarters of the 19th century were marked by tribal warfare, incursions from neighbouring Tonga, and the increasing encroachment of foreign powers...

.)

The Lau islands had after the Tu'i Mana'u dynasty were subject to periods of Tongan and then Fijian control until their eventual conquest by Seru Epenisa Cakobau of the Kingdom of Fiji by 1871. In around 1855 a Tongan prince, Enele Ma'afu
Enele Ma'afu
Enele Ma'afu'otu'itonga, commonly known as Ma'afu, was a man of two kingdoms being traditionally a Tongan Prince and a self forged Fijian chief.-A Brief History:...

, proclaimed the Lau islands as his kingdom, and took the title Tui Lau
Tui Lau
Tui Lau is a Fijian chiefly title of recent history which was created during the time of Ma'afu and his conquests after Ma'afu was disclaimed as a Tongan Prince by his cousin King George Tupou I. Since the Vuanirewa consider Ma'afu as their own they therefore installed him as the 1st Tui Lau...

.

Fiji itself had been ruled by numerous divided chieftains until Cakobau unified the landmass. The Lapita culture, the ancestors of the Polynesians, existed in Fiji from 3500 BCE until they were displaced by the Melanesians about a thousand years later. (Interestingly, Samoans and subsequent Polynesian cultures adopted Melanesian face painting methods.)

In 1873, Cakobau ceded a Fiji heavily indebted to foreign creditors to the United Kingdom. It became independent on 10 October 1970 and a republic on 28 September 1987.

Tuvalu

The stories as to the ancestors of the Tuvaluans vary from island to island. On Funafuti
Funafuti
Funafuti is an atoll that forms the capital of the island nation of Tuvalu. It has a population of 4,492 , making it the most populated atoll in the country. It is a narrow sweep of land between 20 and 400 metres wide, encircling a large lagoon 18 km long and 14 km wide, with a surface of...

 and Vaitupu
Vaitupu
Vaitupu is an atoll, which is part of the nation of Tuvalu.Vaitupu, the largest atoll of Tuvalu is located at 7.48 degrees south and 178.83 degrees west. The capital is Asau.-History:...

 the founding ancestor is described as being from Samoa
Samoa
Samoa , officially the Independent State of Samoa, formerly known as Western Samoa is a country encompassing the western part of the Samoan Islands in the South Pacific Ocean. It became independent from New Zealand in 1962. The two main islands of Samoa are Upolu and one of the biggest islands in...

; whereas on Nanumea
Nanumea
Nanumea is the northwesternmost atoll in the Polynesian nation of Tuvalu, a group of nine coral atolls and islands spread over about four hundred miles of Pacific Ocean just south of the equator and west of the International Date Line.-Geography:...

 the founding ancestor is described as being from Tonga
Tonga
Tonga, officially the Kingdom of Tonga , is a state and an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, comprising 176 islands scattered over of ocean in the South Pacific...

; These stories can be linked to what is known about the Samoa-based Tu'i Manu'a Confederacy, ruled by the holders of the Tu'i Manu'a title, which confederacy likely included much of Western Polynesia and some outliers at the height of its power in the 10th and 11th centuries; and the extent of influence of the Tuʻi Tonga line of Tongan kings, which originated in the 10th century; while the existence of the Tuʻi Tonga Empire is disputed, Tuvalu is thought to have been visited by Tonga
Tonga
Tonga, officially the Kingdom of Tonga , is a state and an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, comprising 176 islands scattered over of ocean in the South Pacific...

ns in the mid-13th century and was within Tonga's sphere of influence. (See: History of Tuvalu
History of Tuvalu
The first inhabitants of Tuvalu were Polynesians so that the origins of the people of Tuvalu is addressed in the theories regarding the spread of humans out of Southeast Asia, from Taiwan, via Melanesia and across the Pacific islands to create Polynesia....

.)

Polynesian links to the Americas

The sweet potato, called kūmara in Māori
Maori language
Māori or te reo Māori , commonly te reo , is the language of the indigenous population of New Zealand, the Māori. It has the status of an official language in New Zealand...

, which is native to the Americas, was widespread in Polynesia when Europeans first reached the Pacific. Remains of the plant have been radiocarbon-dated in the Cook Islands to 1000 AD, and current thinking is that it was brought to central Polynesia circa 700 CE and spread across Polynesia from there, possibly by Polynesians who had traveled to South America and back.

Thor Heyerdahl
Thor Heyerdahl
Thor Heyerdahl was a Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer with a background in zoology and geography. He became notable for his Kon-Tiki expedition, in which he sailed by raft from South America to the Tuamotu Islands...

 proposed in the mid-20th century that the Polynesians had migrated from South America on balsa
Balsa
Ochroma pyramidale, commonly known as the balsa tree , is a species of flowering plant in the mallow family, Malvaceae. It is a large, fast-growing tree that can grow up to tall. It is the source of balsa wood, a very lightweight material with many uses...

-log boats. Many anthropologists have criticised Heyerdahl's theory, including Wade Davis
Wade Davis
Edmund Wade Davis is a Canadian anthropologist, ethnobotanist, author and photographer whose work has focused on worldwide indigenous cultures, especially in North and South America and particularly involving the traditional uses and beliefs associated with psychoactive plants...

 in his book The Wayfinders. Davis says that Heyerdahl "ignored the overwhelming body of linguistic, ethnographic, and ethnobotanical evidence, augmented today by genetic and archaeological data, indicating that he was patently wrong."

Cultures of Polynesia

Polynesia divides into two distinct cultural groups, East Polynesia and West Polynesia. The culture of West Polynesia is conditioned to high populations. It has strong institutions of marriage and well-developed judicial, monetary and trading traditions. It comprises the groups of Tonga
Tonga
Tonga, officially the Kingdom of Tonga , is a state and an archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, comprising 176 islands scattered over of ocean in the South Pacific...

, Niue
Niue
Niue , is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean. It is commonly known as the "Rock of Polynesia", and inhabitants of the island call it "the Rock" for short. Niue is northeast of New Zealand in a triangle between Tonga to the southwest, the Samoas to the northwest, and the Cook Islands to...

, Samoa
Samoa
Samoa , officially the Independent State of Samoa, formerly known as Western Samoa is a country encompassing the western part of the Samoan Islands in the South Pacific Ocean. It became independent from New Zealand in 1962. The two main islands of Samoa are Upolu and one of the biggest islands in...

 and the northwestern Polynesian outlier
Polynesian outlier
Polynesian outliers are a number of culturally Polynesian islands which lie in geographic or political Melanesia and Micronesia. Based on archaeological and linguistic analysis, these islands are believed to have been colonized by seafaring Polynesians, mostly from the area of Tonga, Samoa and...

s.

Eastern Polynesian cultures are highly adapted to smaller islands and atolls, principally the Cook Islands
Cook Islands
The Cook Islands is a self-governing parliamentary democracy in the South Pacific Ocean in free association with New Zealand...

, Tahiti
Tahiti
Tahiti is the largest island in the Windward group of French Polynesia, located in the archipelago of the Society Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean. It is the economic, cultural and political centre of French Polynesia. The island was formed from volcanic activity and is high and mountainous...

, the Tuamotus
Tuamotus
The Tuamotus or the Tuamotu Archipelago are a chain of islands and atolls in French Polynesia. They form the largest chain of atolls in the world, spanning an area of the Pacific Ocean roughly the size of Western Europe...

, the Marquesas, Hawaii
Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

, Rapa Nui and smaller central-pacific groups. The large islands of New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 were first settled by Eastern Polynesians who adapted their culture to a non-tropical environment.

Unlike in Melanesia, leaders were chosen in Polynesia based on their hereditary bloodline. Samoa however, had another system of government that combines elements of heredity and real-world skills to choose leaders. This system is called Fa'amatai
Fa'amatai
Fa'amatai is the chiefly system of Samoa, central to the organization of Samoan society.It is the traditional indigenous form of governance in the Samoa Islands, comprising American Samoa and the Independent State of Samoa...

. According to Ben R. Finney and Eric M. Jones, "On Tahiti, for example, the 35,000 Polynesians living there at the time of European discovery were divided between high-status persons with full access to food and other resources, and low-status persons with limited access."
Religion, farming, fishing
Fishing
Fishing is the activity of trying to catch wild fish. Fish are normally caught in the wild. Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and trapping....

, weather prediction, out-rigger canoe (similar to modern catamaran
Catamaran
A catamaran is a type of multihulled boat or ship consisting of two hulls, or vakas, joined by some structure, the most basic being a frame, formed of akas...

s) construction and navigation
Navigation
Navigation is the process of monitoring and controlling the movement of a craft or vehicle from one place to another. It is also the term of art used for the specialized knowledge used by navigators to perform navigation tasks...

 were highly developed skills because the population of an entire island depended on them. Trading of both luxuries and mundane items was important to all groups. Periodic droughts and subsequent famine
Famine
A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including crop failure, overpopulation, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every continent in the world has...

s often lead to war. Many low-lying islands could suffer severe famine if their gardens were poisoned by the salt from the storm-surge of a hurricane. In these cases fishing, the primary source of protein, would not ease loss of food energy
Food energy
Food energy is the amount of energy obtained from food that is available through cellular respiration.Food energy is expressed in food calories or kilojoules...

. Navigators, in particular, were highly respected and each island maintained a house of navigation with a canoe-building area.

Settlements by the Polynesians were of two categories: the hamlet
Hamlet (place)
A hamlet is usually a rural settlement which is too small to be considered a village, though sometimes the word is used for a different sort of community. Historically, when a hamlet became large enough to justify building a church, it was then classified as a village...

 and the village
Village
A village is a clustered human settlement or community, larger than a hamlet with the population ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand , Though often located in rural areas, the term urban village is also applied to certain urban neighbourhoods, such as the West Village in Manhattan, New...

. Size of the island inhabited determined whether or a not a hamlet would be built. The larger volcanic islands usually had hamlets because of the many zones that could be divided across the island. Food and resources were more plentiful and so these settlements of four to five houses (usually with gardens) were established so that there would be no overlap between the zones. Villages, on the other hand, were built on the coasts of smaller islands and consisted of thirty or more houses—in the case of atolls, on only one of the group so that food cultivation was on the others. Usually these villages were fortified with walls and palisades made of stone and wood.

However, New Zealand demonstrates the opposite: large volcanic islands with fortified villages.

As well as being great navigators these people were artists and artisans of great skill. Simple objects, such as fish-hooks would be manufactured to exacting standards for different catches and decorated even when the decoration was not part of the function. Stone and wooden weapons were considered to be more powerful the better they were made and decorated. In some island groups weaving was a strong part of the culture and gifting woven articles an ingrained practice. Dwellings were imbued with character by the skill of their building. Body decoration and jewellery is of international standard to this day.

The religious attributes of Polynesians were common over the whole Pacific region. While there are some differences in their spoken languages they largely have the same explanation for the creation of the earth and sky, for the gods that rule aspects of life and for the religious practices of everyday life. People travelled thousands of miles to celebrations that they all owned communally.

Due to relatively large numbers of competitive sects of Christian missionaries in the islands, many Polynesian groups have been converted to Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

. Polynesian languages are all members of the family of Oceanic languages, a sub-branch of the Austronesian
Austronesian languages
The Austronesian languages are a language family widely dispersed throughout the islands of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, with a few members spoken on continental Asia that are spoken by about 386 million people. It is on par with Indo-European, Niger-Congo, Afroasiatic and Uralic as one of the...

 language family.

Polynesian languages

Polynesian languages show a considerable degree of similarity. The vowels are generally the same—a, e, i, o, and u, pronounced as in Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

, Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

, and German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

—and the consonants are always followed by a vowel. The languages of various island groups show changes in consonant
Consonant
In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with the front of the tongue; , pronounced with the back of the tongue; , pronounced in the throat; and ,...

s. R and v are used in central and eastern Polynesia whereas l and v are used in western Polynesia. The glottal stop
Glottal stop
The glottal stop, or more fully, the voiceless glottal plosive, is a type of consonantal sound used in many spoken languages. In English, the feature is represented, for example, by the hyphen in uh-oh! and by the apostrophe or [[ʻokina]] in Hawaii among those using a preservative pronunciation of...

 is increasingly represented by an inverted comma or 'okina. In the Society Islands
Society Islands
The Society Islands are a group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean. They are politically part of French Polynesia. The archipelago is generally believed to have been named by Captain James Cook in honor of the Royal Society, the sponsor of the first British scientific survey of the islands;...

, the original Proto-Polynesian
Proto-Polynesian language
Proto-Polynesian, , is the hypothetical proto-language from which all the modern Polynesian languages descend. Historical linguists have reconstructed the language using the comparative method, in much the same manner as with Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Afro-Asiatic...

 *k and *ng have merged as glottal stop; so the name for the ancestral homeland, deriving from Proto-Nuclear Polynesian *sawaiki, becomes Havai'i. In New Zealand, where the original *w is used instead of v, the ancient home is Hawaiki
Hawaiki
In Māori mythology, Hawaiki is the homeland of the Māori, the original home of the Māori, before they travelled across the sea to New Zealand...

. In the Cook Islands, where the glottal stop replaces the original *s (with a likely intermediate stage of *h), it is ‘Avaiki. In the Hawaiian islands, where the glottal stop replaces the original k, the largest island of the group is named Hawai‘i. In Samoa, where the original s is used instead of h, v replaces w, and the glottal stop replaces the original k, the largest island is called Savai'i
Savai'i
Savaii is the largest and highest island in Samoa and the Samoa Islands chain. It is also the biggest landmass in Polynesia outside Hawaii and New Zealand. The island of Savai'i is also referred to by Samoans as Salafai, a classical Samoan term used in oratory and prose...

.

Economy

With the exception of New Zealand, the majority of independent Polynesian islands derive much of their income from foreign aid and remittances from those who live in other countries. Some encourage their young people to go where they can earn good money to remit to their stay-at-home relatives. Many Polynesian locations, such as Easter Island
Easter Island
Easter Island is a Polynesian island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian triangle. A special territory of Chile that was annexed in 1888, Easter Island is famous for its 887 extant monumental statues, called moai, created by the early Rapanui people...

, supplement this with tourism income. Some have more unusual sources of income, such as Tuvalu
Tuvalu
Tuvalu , formerly known as the Ellice Islands, is a Polynesian island nation located in the Pacific Ocean, midway between Hawaii and Australia. Its nearest neighbours are Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa and Fiji. It comprises four reef islands and five true atolls...

 which marketed its '.tv
.tv
The domain name .tv is the Internet country code top-level domain for the islands of Tuvalu.Except for reserved names like com.tv, net.tv, org.tv and others, any person may register second-level domains in tv...

' internet top-level domain name or the Cooks that relied on stamp
Postage stamp
A postage stamp is a small piece of paper that is purchased and displayed on an item of mail as evidence of payment of postage. Typically, stamps are made from special paper, with a national designation and denomination on the face, and a gum adhesive on the reverse side...

 sales.

Political union

After several years of discussing a potential regional grouping, three sovereign states (Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu) and five self-governing but non-sovereign territories formally launched, in November 2011, the Polynesian Leaders Group
Polynesian Leaders Group
The Polynesian Leaders Group is an international governmental cooperation group bringing together eight independent or self-governing countries or territories in Polynesia....

, intended to cooperate on a variety of issues including culture and language, education, responses to climate change, and trade and investment. It does not, however, constitute a political or monetary union.

Polynesian navigation

Polynesia comprised islands diffused throughout a triangular area with sides of four thousand miles. The area from the Hawaiian Islands in the north, to Easter Island in the east and to New Zealand in the south were all settled by Polynesians.

Navigator
Navigator
A navigator is the person on board a ship or aircraft responsible for its navigation. The navigator's primary responsibility is to be aware of ship or aircraft position at all times. Responsibilities include planning the journey, advising the Captain or aircraft Commander of estimated timing to...

s traveled to small inhabited islands using only their own senses and knowledge passed by oral tradition
Oral tradition
Oral tradition and oral lore is cultural material and traditions transmitted orally from one generation to another. The messages or testimony are verbally transmitted in speech or song and may take the form, for example, of folktales, sayings, ballads, songs, or chants...

 from navigator to apprentice. In order to locate directions at various times of day and year, navigators in Eastern Polynesia memorized important facts: the motion of specific star
Star
A star is a massive, luminous sphere of plasma held together by gravity. At the end of its lifetime, a star can also contain a proportion of degenerate matter. The nearest star to Earth is the Sun, which is the source of most of the energy on Earth...

s, and where they would rise on the horizon
Horizon
The horizon is the apparent line that separates earth from sky, the line that divides all visible directions into two categories: those that intersect the Earth's surface, and those that do not. At many locations, the true horizon is obscured by trees, buildings, mountains, etc., and the resulting...

 of the ocean; weather
Weather
Weather is the state of the atmosphere, to the degree that it is hot or cold, wet or dry, calm or stormy, clear or cloudy. Most weather phenomena occur in the troposphere, just below the stratosphere. Weather refers, generally, to day-to-day temperature and precipitation activity, whereas climate...

; times of travel; wildlife species (which congregate at particular positions); directions of swells on the ocean, and how the crew would feel their motion; colors of the sea and sky, especially how clouds would cluster at the locations of some islands; and angles for approaching harbors.

These wayfinding
Wayfinding
Wayfinding encompasses all of the ways in which people and animals orient themselves in physical space and navigate from place to place.-Historical:...

 techniques along with outrigger
Outrigger
An outrigger is a part of a boat's rigging which is rigid and extends beyond the side or gunwale of a boat.In an outrigger canoe and in sailboats such as the proa, an outrigger is a thin, long, solid, hull used to stabilise an inherently unstable main hull. The outrigger is positioned rigidly and...

 canoe
Canoe
A canoe or Canadian canoe is a small narrow boat, typically human-powered, though it may also be powered by sails or small electric or gas motors. Canoes are usually pointed at both bow and stern and are normally open on top, but can be decked over A canoe (North American English) or Canadian...

 construction methods, were kept as guild
Guild
A guild is an association of craftsmen in a particular trade. The earliest types of guild were formed as confraternities of workers. They were organized in a manner something between a trade union, a cartel, and a secret society...

 secrets. Generally each island maintained a guild of navigators who had very high status; in times of famine or difficulty these navigators could trade for aid or evacuate people to neighboring islands. To this day, original traditional methods of Polynesian Navigation are still taught in the Polynesian outlier
Polynesian outlier
Polynesian outliers are a number of culturally Polynesian islands which lie in geographic or political Melanesia and Micronesia. Based on archaeological and linguistic analysis, these islands are believed to have been colonized by seafaring Polynesians, mostly from the area of Tonga, Samoa and...

 of Taumako Island
Duff Islands
The Duff Islands are a small island group lying to the northeast of the Santa Cruz Islands in the Solomon Islands province of Temotu. They are also sometimes known as the Wilson Islands....

 in the Solomon Islands
Islands of the Solomon Islands
This is a list of islands of the Solomon Islands, by province and archipelago.*Choiseul Province**Choiseul Island**Taro Island**Vaghena Island *Western Province**Shortland Islands***Magusaiai***Alu Island ***Pirumeri...

.

From a single chicken bone recovered from the archaeological site of El Arenal-1, on the Arauco Peninsula, Chile, a 2007 research report looking at radiocarbon dating and an ancient DNA sequence indicate that Polynesian navigators may have reached the Americas at least 100 years before Columbus (who arrived 1492 AD), introducing chickens to South America. A later report looking at the same specimens concluded:


A published, apparently pre-Columbian, Chilean specimen and six pre-European Polynesian specimens also cluster with the same European/Indian subcontinental/Southeast Asian sequences, providing no support for a Polynesian introduction of chickens to South America. In contrast, sequences from two archaeological sites on Easter Island group with an uncommon haplogroup from Indonesia, Japan, and China and may represent a genetic signature of an early Polynesian dispersal. Modeling of the potential marine carbon contribution to the Chilean archaeological specimen casts further doubt on claims for pre-Columbian chickens, and definitive proof will require further analyses of ancient DNA sequences and radiocarbon and stable isotope data from archaeological excavations within both Chile and Polynesia.

Knowledge of the traditional Polynesian methods of navigation were largely lost after contact with and colonization by Europeans. This left the problem of accounting for the presence of the Polynesians in such isolated and scattered parts of the Pacific. By the late 19th century to the early 20th century a more generous view of Polynesian navigation had come into favor, perhaps creating a romantic picture of their canoes, seamanship and navigational expertise.

In the mid to late 1960s, scholars began testing sailing and paddling experiments related to Polynesian navigation: David Lewis
David Henry Lewis
David Henry Lewis, DCNZM was a sailor, adventurer, doctor, and Polynesian scholar. He is best known for his studies on the traditional systems of navigation used by the Pacific Islanders...

 sailed his catamaran from Tahiti to New Zealand using stellar navigation without instruments and Ben Finney
Ben Finney
Ben Rudolph Finney is an American anthropologist known for his expertise in the history and cultural and social anthropology of surfing, Polynesian navigation and canoe sailing, and in the cultural and social anthropology of human space colonization...

 built a 40-foot replica of a Hawaiian double canoe "Nalehia" and tested it in Hawaii. Meanwhile, Micronesian ethnographic research in the Caroline Islands revealed that traditional stellar navigational methods were still in every day use. Recent re-creations of Polynesian voyaging have used methods based largely on Micronesian methods and the teachings of a Micronesian navigator, Mau Piailug
Mau Piailug
Pius "Mau" Piailug was a Micronesian navigator from the Carolinian island of Satawal, best known as a teacher of traditional, non-instrument wayfinding methods for deep-sea voyaging...

.

It is probable that the Polynesian navigators employed a whole range of techniques including use of the stars, the movement of ocean currents and wave patterns, the air and sea interference patterns caused by islands and atoll
Atoll
An atoll is a coral island that encircles a lagoon partially or completely.- Usage :The word atoll comes from the Dhivehi word atholhu OED...

s, the flight of birds, the winds and the weather. Scientists think that long-distance Polynesian voyaging followed the seasonal paths of birds
Bird migration
Bird migration is the regular seasonal journey undertaken by many species of birds. Bird movements include those made in response to changes in food availability, habitat or weather. Sometimes, journeys are not termed "true migration" because they are irregular or in only one direction...

. There are some references in their oral traditions to the flight of birds and some say that there were range marks onshore pointing to distant islands in line with these flyway
Flyway
A flyway is a flight path used in bird migration. Flyways generally span over continents and often oceans.-Flyways of the Americas:*Atlantic Flyway*Central Flyway*Mississippi Flyway*Pacific Flyway*Allegheny Front...

s. One theory is that they would have taken a frigatebird
Frigatebird
The frigatebirds are a family, Fregatidae, of seabirds. There are five species in the single genus Fregata. They are also sometimes called Man of War birds or Pirate birds. Since they are related to the pelicans, the term "frigate pelican" is also a name applied to them...

 with them. These birds refuse to land on the water as their feathers will become waterlogged making it impossible to fly. When the voyagers thought they were close to land they may have released the bird, which would either fly towards land or else return to the canoe. It is likely that the Polynesians also used wave and swell formations to navigate. It is thought that the Polynesian navigators may have measured the time it took to sail between islands in "canoe-days’’ or a similar type of expression.

Also, people of the Marshall Islands used special devices called stick charts
Marshall Islands stick chart
Stick charts were made and used by the Marshallese to navigate the Pacific Ocean by canoe off the coast of the Marshall Islands. The charts represented major ocean swell patterns and the ways the islands disrupted those patterns, typically determined by sensing disruptions in ocean swells by...

, showing the places and directions of swells and wave-breaks, with tiny seashells affixed to them to mark the positions of islands along the way. Materials for these maps were readily available on beaches, and their making was simple; however, their effective use needed years and years of study.

See also

  • List of Polynesians
  • Polynesian mythology
    Polynesian mythology
    Polynesian mythology is the oral traditions of the people of Polynesia, a grouping of Central and South Pacific Ocean island archipelagos in the Polynesian triangle together with the scattered cultures known as the Polynesian outliers...

  • Polynesian Society
    Polynesian Society
    The Polynesian Society is a non-profit organization based at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, dedicated to the scholarly study of the history, ethnography, and mythology of Oceania....

  • Polynesian Voyaging Society
    Polynesian Voyaging Society
    The Polynesian Voyaging Society is a non-profit research and educational corporation based in Honolulu, Hawaii. PVS was established to research and perpetuate traditional Polynesian voyaging methods...


External links

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