Polynesian Triangle

The Polynesian Triangle is a region of the Pacific Ocean with three island groups at its corners: Hawaii, Easter Island (Rapa Nui) and New Zealand (Aotearoa). It is often used as a simple way to define Polynesia.

Outside the triangle, there are traces of Polynesian settlement as far north as Necker Island (Mokumanamana), as far east as Salas y Gómez Island (Motu Motiro Hiva), and as far south as Enderby Island (Motu Maha). There was also once Polynesian settlement on Norfolk Island and Kermadec Island (Rangitahua). However, by the time the Europeans first arrived, these islands were all uninhabited.

Today, the most numerous Polynesian peoples are the Māori, Hawaiians, Tongans, Samoans, Niueans and Tahitians. The native languages of this vast triangle are Polynesian languages, which are classified by linguists as part of the Oceanic subgroup of Malayo-Polynesian. They ultimately derive from the proto-Austronesian language spoken in Southeast Asia 5,000 years ago. There are also numerous Polynesian outlier islands outside the triangle in neighboring Melanesia and Micronesia.

The Polynesian Triangle is a geographical region of the Pacific Ocean with Hawaii (1), New Zealand (Aotearoa) (2) and Easter Island (Rapa Nui) (3) at its corners. At the center is Tahiti (5), with Samoa (4) to the west.


Anthropologists believe that all modern Polynesian cultures descend from a single protoculture established in the South Pacific by migrant Malayo-Polynesian people (see also Lapita). There is also some evidence that Polynesians ventured as far east as the Isla Salas y Gómez and as far south as the subantarctic islands to the south of New Zealand, however none of these islands are reckoned with Polynesia proper, as no viable settlements have survived. There are remains of a Polynesian settlement dating back to the 13th century on Enderby Island in the Auckland Islands. [1][2][3][4] A shard of pottery was also recorded to have been found in the Antipodes Islands, but the Te Papa museum in Wellington has stated that they do not possess this shard and that the original description of the find did not say anything about its being Polynesian in origin.

In contrast to the shape of a triangle, another theory states that the geography of Polynesian society and navigation pathways more accurately resemble the geometric qualities of an octopus with head centred on Ra'iātea (French Polynesia) and tentacles spread out across the Pacific.[5] In Polynesian oral tradition the octopus is known by various names such as Taumata-Fe'e-Fa'atupu-Hau (Grand Octopus of Prosperity), Tumu-Ra'i-Fenua (Beginning-of-Heaven-and-Earth) and Te Wheke-a-Muturangi (The Octopus of Muturangi).

See also


  1. ^ O'Connor, Tom Polynesians in the Southern Ocean: Occupation of the Auckland Islands in Prehistory in New Zealand Geographic 69 (September–October 2004): 6-8)
  2. ^ Anderson, Atholl J., & Gerard R. O'Regan To the Final Shore: Prehistoric Colonisation of the Subantarctic Islands in South Polynesia in Australian Archaeologist: Collected Papers in Honour of Jim Allen Canberra: Australian National University, 2000. 440-454.
  3. ^ Anderson, Atholl J., & Gerard R. O'Regan The Polynesian Archaeology of the Subantarctic Islands: An Initial Report on Enderby Island Southern Margins Project Report. Dunedin: Ngai Tahu Development Report, 1999
  4. ^ Anderson, Atholl J. Subpolar Settlement in South Polynesia Antiquity 79.306 (2005): 791-800
  5. ^ Au gré des vents et des courants (Éditions des Mers Australes) 2009, E. Tetahiotupa

External links

Culture of Solomon Islands

The culture of the Solomon Islands reflects the extent of the differentiation and diversity among the groups living within the Solomon Islands archipelago, which lies within Melanesia in the Pacific Ocean, with the peoples distinguished by island, language, topography, and geography. The cultural area includes the nation state of Solomon Islands and the Bougainville Island, which is a part of Papua New Guinea.The Solomon Islands includes some culturally Polynesian societies which lie outside the main region of Polynesian influence, known as the Polynesian Triangle. There are seven Polynesian outliers within the Solomon Islands: Anuta, Bellona, Ontong Java, Rennell, Sikaiana, Tikopia, and Vaeakau-Taumako.

Erick Berry

Evangel Allena Champlin Best (1892 – 1974), better known by her pen name Erick Berry, was an American author, illustrator and editor.

Francisco de Hoces

Francisco de Hoces (died 1526) was a Spanish sailor who in 1525 joined the Loaísa Expedition to the Spice Islands as commander of the vessel San Lesmes.

In January 1526, the San Lesmes was blown by a gale southwards from the eastern mouth of the Strait of Magellan to 56ºS latitude, where the crew thought they saw a land’s end. This is commonly understood as that they saw open waters westward away of a point of land that could be the southeasternmost tip of either Tierra del Fuego (Cape San Diego) or Isla de los Estados (Cape San Juan). In any of both cases they supposedly had seen an open water connection between Atlantic and Pacific oceans south of Tierra del Fuego, and therefore they preceded Francis Drake in inferring the existence of such a connection. This is the reason why some Spanish, Argentine, and Chilean historians maintain that the so-called Drake Passage should be named Mar de Hoces (Hoces Sea).

After Loaisa expedition eventually reached the Pacific through the Strait of Magellan, the whole fleet was dispersed by another gale and San Lesmes was seen for the last time in late May 1526. The final fate of San Lesmes has been the subject of much speculation, based in some 16th-century European traces later found in different places around the South Pacific, which suggest she could have reached Easter Island, any of the Polynesian archipelagos or even New Zealand. Any of these cases would represent the first European landing in the Polynesian Triangle, preceding confirmed European landings in this region by several decades. Australian writer Robert Langdon has been the most prominent supporter of these theories in his books The Lost Caravel and The lost caravel re-explored. Following Robert Langdon's death, his theory has since been used as the basis for Greg Scowen's conspiracy thriller The Spanish Helmet, which features de Hoces as one of the main characters.

Hotu Matu'a

Hotu Matu'a was the legendary first settler and ariki mau ("supreme chief" or "king") of Easter Island and ancestor of the Rapa Nui people. Hotu Matu'a and his two canoe (or one double hulled canoe) colonising party were Polynesians from the now unknown land of Hiva (probably the Marquesas). They landed at Anakena beach and his people spread out across the island, sub-divided it between clans claiming descent from his sons, and lived for more than a thousand years in their isolated island home at the southeastern tip of the Polynesian Triangle.

Isla Salas y Gómez

Isla Salas y Gómez, also known as Isla Sala y Gómez, is a small uninhabited Chilean island in the Pacific Ocean. It is sometimes considered the easternmost point in the Polynesian Triangle.

Isla Salas y Gómez and its surrounding waters are a Marine Protected Area called Parque Marino Salas y Gómez, with a surface area of 150,000 km2.

Mangareva language

Mangareva or Mangarevan (locally Magareva, IPA: [maŋareva]) is a Polynesian language spoken by about 600 people in the Gambier Islands of French Polynesia (especially the largest island Mangareva) and on the islands of Tahiti and Moorea, located 1,650 kilometres (1,030 mi) to the North-West of the Gambier Islands, where Mangarevians have emigrated over time.


Polynesia (UK: , US: ; from Greek: πολύς polys "many" and Greek: νῆσος nēsos "island") is a subregion of Oceania, made up of more than 1,000 islands scattered over the central and southern Pacific Ocean. The indigenous people who inhabit the islands of Polynesia are termed Polynesians, and share many similar traits including language family, culture, and beliefs. Historically, they had a strong tradition of sailing and using stars to navigate at night. The largest country in Polynesia is New Zealand.

The term Polynesia was first used in 1756 by a French writer named Charles de Brosses, and originally applied to all the islands of the Pacific. In 1831, Jules Dumont d'Urville proposed a restriction on its use during a lecture to the Geographical Society of Paris. Historically, the islands of the South Seas have been known as South Sea Islands, and their inhabitants as South Sea Islanders, even though the Hawaiian Islands are located in the North Pacific. Another term, the Polynesian Triangle, explicitly includes the Hawaiian Islands, as they form its northern vertex.


Polynesian is the adjectival form of Polynesia. It may refer to:

Polynesians, an ethnic group

Polynesian culture, the culture of the indigenous peoples of Polynesia

Polynesian mythology, the oral traditions of the people of Polynesia

Polynesian languages, a language family spoken in geographical Polynesia and on a patchwork of outliers

Polynesian Leaders Group, an international governmental cooperation group

Polynesian Triangle, a region of the Pacific Ocean with three island groups at its corners

Polynesian Leaders Group

The Polynesian Leaders Group (PLG) is an international governmental cooperation group bringing together eight independent or self-governing countries or territories in Polynesia.

The idea of a Polynesian regional grouping had been discussed for several years, notably in response to the Melanesian Spearhead Group, a regional grouping for countries in Melanesia. In September 2011, Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi initiated a meeting with the leaders of Tonga, Tuvalu, the Cook Islands and Niue on the margins of the Pacific Islands Forum summit in Auckland. These initial talks led to a second meeting in Apia which, on 17 November, led to a memorandum of understanding formally establishing the Polynesian Leaders Group (PLG).The Group does not have a fixed Secretariat at present, despite initial suggestions that one would be established in Apia. The Group held its first formal meeting in Rarotonga in the Cook Islands in August 2012.

Polynesian Voyaging Society

The Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) is a non-profit research and educational corporation based in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. PVS was established to research and perpetuate traditional Polynesian voyaging methods. Using replicas of traditional double-hulled canoes, PVS undertakes voyages throughout Polynesia navigating without modern instruments.

Polynesian narrative

The Polynesian narrative or Polynesian mythology encompasses 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. Polynesians speak languages that descend from a language reconstructed as Proto-Polynesian that was probably spoken in the Tonga - Samoa area around 1000 BC.

Polynesian outlier

Polynesian outliers are a number of culturally Polynesian societies that geographically lie outside the main region of Polynesian influence, known as the Polynesian Triangle; instead, Polynesian outliers are scattered in the two other Pacific subregions: Melanesia and Micronesia. Based on archaeological and linguistic analysis, these islands are considered to have been colonized by seafaring Polynesians, mostly from the area of Tonga, Samoa and Tuvalu.


Polynesians are an ethnolinguistic group of closely related peoples who are native to Polynesia (islands in the Polynesian Triangle), an expansive region of Oceania in the Pacific Ocean. They trace their origins to Island Southeast Asia and are part of the larger Austronesian ethnolinguistic group with an Urheimat ultimately from Taiwan. They speak the Polynesian languages, a branch of the Oceanic subfamily of the Austronesian language family.

There are an estimated 2 million ethnic Polynesians (full and part) worldwide, the vast majority of whom inhabit independent Polynesian nation states (Samoa, Niue, Cook Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu) and form minorities in Australia, Chile (Easter Island), New Zealand, France (French Polynesia and Wallis and Futuna), United Kingdom Overseas Territories (Pitcairn Islands) and the United States (Hawaii and American Samoa).

Rapa Nui National Park

Rapa Nui National Park is a national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site located on Easter Island, Chile. Rapa Nui is the Polynesian name of Easter Island; its Spanish name is Isla de Pascua. The island is located in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeastern extremity of the Polynesian Triangle. The island was taken over by Chile in 1888. Its fame and World Heritage status arise from the 887 extant stone statues known by the name "moai", whose creation is attributed to the early Rapa Nui people who inhabited the island around 300 AD. Much of the island has been declared as Rapa Nui National Park which, on 22 March 1996, UNESCO designated a World Heritage Site under cultural criteria (i), (iii), & (v). The Rapa Nui National Park is now under the administrative control of the Ma´u Henua Polynesian Indigenous Community, which is the first autonomous institute on the island. The indigenous Rapa Nui people have regained authority over their ancestral lands and are in charge of the management, preservation and protection of their patrimony. On the first of December 2017, the ex-President Michelle Bachelet returned ancestral lands in the form of the Rapa Nui National Park to the indigenous people. For the first time in history, the revenue generated by the National Park is invested in the island and used to conserve the natural heritage.

Rapa Nui mythology

Rapa Nui mythology, also known as Pascuense mythology or Easter Island mythology, refers to the native myths, legends, and beliefs of the Rapa Nui people of Easter Island in the south eastern Pacific Ocean.

South Seas

The term South Seas or South Sea commonly refers to the South Pacific. Geographically, all areas to the south of Panama's degree of latitude belong to the South Sea.

Central archipelagos are the Society Islands (French Polynesia/Tahiti), the Samoa-archipelago and the Fiji islands. The term South Sea is often used synonymously for Oceania and in a narrow sense for Polynesia (Polynesian Triangle). The Hawaii islands, New Zealand (Aotearoa) and the Easter Island (Rapa Nui) build the vertices.

Takuu Atoll

Takuu, formerly known as Tauu and also known as Takuu Mortlock or Marqueen Islands, is a small, isolated atoll off the east coast of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea.

Te Wheke-a-Muturangi

In Māori mythology, Te Wheke-a-Muturangi is a monstrous octopus destroyed in Whekenui Bay, Tory Channel or at Pātea by Kupe the navigator.

The octopus was a pet or familiar of Muturangi, a powerful tohunga of Hawaiki. The wheke was nonetheless a wild creature and a guardian.

When Kupe reached New Zealand, he encountered the beast off Castlepoint. The giant octopus then fled across Cook Strait, and was chased by Kupe through Tory Channel. Here a great battle took place, and when the octopus appeared to be about to flee, Kupe cut off its arms with his adze, killing it (Tregear 1891: 184, 620).

In the traditions of the Ngāti Ranginui people of Tauranga, Te Wheke-a-Muturangi was killed by their ancestor Tamatea, and is not associated with Kupe. New Zealand ethnologist David Simmons has suggested that this may be the more authentic tradition, and that the association with Kupe is found only in problematic sources (Simmons 1976).

Another theory for Te Wheke-a-Muturangi states that the name actually refers to the many navigation paths centered on Ra'iātea with tentacles reaching out across the Pacific at least as far as the edges of the Polynesian Triangle (Tetahiotupa 2009). In French Polynesian oral tradition this octopus is also known as "Taumata-Fe'e-Fa'atupu-Hau" (Grand Kraken Octopus of Prosperity) and "Tumu-Ra'i-Fenua" (Beginning-of-Heaven-and-Earth).

Tikopia language

The Tikopia language is a Polynesian Outlier language from the island of Tikopia in the Solomon Islands. It is closely related to the Anuta language of the neighboring island of Anuta. Tikopian is also spoken by the Polynesian minority on Vanikoro, who long ago migrated from Tikopia.

Polynesian triangle
Polynesian outliers
Regions of Oceania


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