Polynesia – 30 Facts You Should Know

Several Polynesian islands are situated in the Polynesian Triangle, which is a region on the Oceanian continent. Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia are three of the most important cultural regions in the Pacific Ocean.

Geographic Area

Polynesia is often described as the islands included inside the Polynesian Triangle; however other islands inhabited by Polynesians are located beyond the Triangle. The Polynesian Triangle is formed by linking the locations of Hawaii, New Zealand, & Easter Island from a geographical standpoint. Tonga, Samoa, the Cook Islands, Wallis and Futuna, Tokelau, Niue, Tuvalu, and French Polynesia are the other significant island groupings in the Polynesian Triangle.

The Caroline Islands, the Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea all have minor Polynesian communities. To the north of Fiji, Rotuma is a series of islands with distinctive Polynesian cultural characteristics. Rotuma’s inhabitants share many characteristics with Polynesians, yet they communicate using a language that is distinct from their native tongue. Historical and cultural ties to Tonga may be found in a few of Fiji’s Lau Islands to the southeast. However, Polynesia is still a cultural word that refers to one of the three regions of Oceania, namely Polynesia.


For the most part, Polynesia may be described as an archipelago that encompasses just a tiny piece of the mid-and southern Pacific oceans. It covers an area of around 300,000 to 310,000 square kilometers (117,000 to 118,000 square miles), with more than 270,000 square kilometers (103,000 square miles) included inside New Zealand. About half of the remaining landmass is occupied by the Hawaiian Islands. Most Polynesian islands, including Hawaii and Samoa, are volcanic islands formed by hotspots (volcanoes). There are three more land masses in Polynesia, all of which are part of the partially drowned continent of Zealandia: Norfolk Island, New Zealand, and Ouvéa.


Polynesia is a combination of the Greek words "poly" and "nesos," which mean "many" and "islands," respectively.
Hence, "many islands" is the literal translation of the name Polynesia.
Charles Brosses, a French writer, coined the term "Polynesia" in 1756.
Brosses, on the other hand, used the term to apply to all of the Pacific islands.
According to the Geographical Society of Paris, in 1831, a French explorer & naval commander called Jules Dumont d'Urville, who had just occurred to have sailed across the southern and western Pacific, advocated a limitation on the use of the term "Pacific."
Small patches of land that are dispersed over the mid but also southern Pacific Oceans are known as Polynesia.
Volcanic archipelagos like the Hawaiian Islands and Samoa are frequent among Polynesian islands.
Known as the "New Zealand Continent," "Tasmantis," or simply "Zealandia," the "New Zealand Continent" is an almost completely submerged slab of continental crust that separated from Australia 65 to 80 million years ago.
When the Indo-Australian plate moved away from the Pacific plate, the New Zealand section of Zealandia rose to the surface. The Hawaiian Archipelago accounts for almost half of the remaining territory in Polynesia.
On the New Zealand mainland, the earliest Polynesian rocks date back 510 million years.
The oldest Polynesian rocks discovered outside Zealandia are 80 million years old in the Hawaiian Seamount Chain.
One of Oceania's three primary regions is referred to as Polynesia in cultural jargon.
Within the Polynesian Triangle are all of the Polynesian islands.
Hawaii, New Zealand, as well as Easter Island are the three primary points of this Triangle in terms of location. Other Polynesian-inhabited islands do not fall under the Triangle's jurisdiction.
Along with Samoa and the Cook Islands, the Polynesian Triangle also includes Tonga, the Wallis and Futuna Islands, Tokelau, Niue, and Tuvalu, as well as French Polynesia.
Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, the Caroline Islands, and Vanuatu are all home to small Polynesian communities, as are the Marshall Islands.
It is possible to find Polynesian features on other island groupings outside the Polynesian Triangle, such as Rotuma in Fiji's north.
Tonga's cultural and historical ties to Fiji extend to the Lau Islands, which are located southeast of the main island.
Non-Polynesian languages are spoken by the inhabitants of these island groupings.
The Pacific Ocean is home to the Polynesian islands. Approximately 800,000 square miles in extent, they form a triangle with New Zealand, Hawai'i, and Easter Island as the points of intersection. Colorado is little over 104,000 square miles or one-eighth of the area. Over 1,000 islands make up Polynesia, thus the word "Polynesian," which means "many islands" in Hawaiian. Yet despite a large number of islands, Hawai'i is home to more than two-thirds of the Polynesian population.
As lava rises to the surface of the ocean bottom and builds up over hundreds or even millions of years, the Polynesian islands are created. When the lava hit the ocean water, it cooled and solidified into rock. There was an incremental rise in elevation with each eruption. While some of those volcanoes are dormant, which means they are no longer erupting, others are continuously active, and eruptions or lava flows may occur on a regular basis.
Polynesians have long been masters of their maritime environment due to the fact that their population is dispersed over so many islands. They were masters of the seas, masters of navigation, and masters of fishing. There are several well-known ways of navigating that they used, but they also had a good understanding of the wind and waves. More than 2,000 miles away from Easter Island, their ocean expeditions took them all the way to Chile. The Polynesian Voyaging Society, created in 1973 by a group of Hawaiians, brought back the skill of open-ocean navigation after it had all but vanished. From Hawai'i to Tahiti and back, the Hokule'a set sail.
The Mori is New Zealand's native Polynesian population. "Normal" or "natural" was used to differentiate mortals from deities and spirits.
The Mori greeting is "hong." It is done by putting your foreheads and noses together, shutting your eyes, and inhaling deeply for a few seconds. It signifies the "breath of life" in which their souls unite.
A gigantic octopus is said to have fought the first New Zealander on his arrival to the country! Given its distance from the closest Polynesian islands—more than 1,600 miles—New Zealand was the last to be found.
Maui, a Maori deity, is said to have beaten the sun with a rope! On the island of Maui, they desired more daylight. By agreeing to slow down, the sun hoped Maui would stop.
Polynesians used the rising and setting of the stars to determine their whereabouts when wandering. Additionally, they consulted the movement of the sun, as well as the wind direction and waves.
The Latin word for "quiet" refers to the Pacific Ocean, which is pummeled by powerful tropical storms from time to time. The Pacific Ocean was called by Ferdinand Magellan, the first European to travel from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.
Vocal music dominated pre-colonized Polynesia's music, which was intertwined with dancing in chants and tale songs. Things began to alter with the arrival of European missionaries and their musical instruments, such as guitars as well as ukuleles. They embraced these instruments, including the church songs that they heard, and so did the Polynesian people. However, traditional and Western influences coexist together in island music, which is rooted in both the island's rhythms and its innate desire to dance.
Women were the focus of kinship or lineage, and married couples lived close to the parents of the wife's mother.