Polynesian outlier

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Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia in the Pacific Ocean Pacific Culture Areas.png
Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia in the Pacific Ocean

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.

Polynesian culture the culture of the indigenous people of the Polynesian islands.

Polynesian culture is the culture of the indigenous peoples of Polynesia who share common traits in language, customs and society. Sequentially, the development of Polynesian culture can be divided into four different historical eras:

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

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

Melanesia subregion of Oceania

Melanesia is a subregion of Oceania extending from New Guinea island in the southwestern Pacific Ocean to the Arafura Sea, and eastward to Tonga.


General definition

The region commonly termed "Polynesia" includes thousands of islands, most of them arranged in a rough triangle bounded by Hawaii, Easter Island, and New Zealand. Outside the Polynesian Triangle, in areas commonly designated Micronesia and Melanesia, lie about two dozen islands, most of them small and widely separated, whose inhabitants speak Polynesian languages. These islands are collectively termed the Polynesian "outliers".

Hawaii U.S. state in the United States

Hawaii is a state in the Pacific United States. It is the most recent state to join the United States, on August 21, 1959. Hawaii is the only U.S. state geographically located in Oceania, although it is governed as a part of North America, and the only one composed entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean.

Easter Island Place in Valparaíso, Chile

Easter Island is a Chilean island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian Triangle in Oceania. Easter Island is most famous for its nearly 1,000 extant monumental statues, called moai, created by the early Rapa Nui people. In 1995, UNESCO named Easter Island a World Heritage Site, with much of the island protected within Rapa Nui National Park.

New Zealand Country in Oceania

New Zealand is a sovereign island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country geographically comprises two main landmasses—the North Island, and the South Island —and around 600 smaller islands. It has a total land area of 268,000 square kilometres (103,500 sq mi). New Zealand is situated some 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and roughly 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the Pacific island areas of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. Because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. During its long period of isolation, New Zealand developed a distinct biodiversity of animal, fungal, and plant life. The country's varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks, such as the Southern Alps, owe much to the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions. New Zealand's capital city is Wellington, while its most populous city is Auckland.

Their residents generally share features found within Triangle Polynesia. Physically, Polynesians tend to have brown complexions and dark, wavy hair, and they are typically large people of muscular build.

The fact that people in all of the Polynesian outliers speak recognizably Polynesian languages implies that their ancestors fairly recently migrated from the Polynesian heartland. Yet there is much social variation. In some places, outlier populations settled in close proximity to Melanesian or Micronesian populations and seem to have been influenced by them. In other locations, outlier populations remained isolated by geography, ecology, or choice and seem more classically Polynesian. [1]

Language contact occurs when speakers of two or more languages or varieties interact and influence each other. The study of language contact is called contact linguistics. When speakers of different languages interact closely, it is typical for their languages to influence each other. Language contact can occur at language borders, between adstratum languages, or as the result of migration, with an intrusive language acting as either a superstratum or a substratum.


Map of the Polynesian outliers (in red) and the original Polynesian homeland (red zone). Western Polynesia and Polynesian Outliers - fr.svg
Map of the Polynesian outliers (in red) and the original Polynesian homeland (red zone).

Polynesian outlier cultures are scattered across five countries of the Pacific: in the Federated States of Micronesia, in Papua New Guinea, in the Solomon Islands, in Vanuatu, and in New Caledonia.

Federated States of Micronesia Island republic in Oceania

The Federated States of Micronesia is an independent republic associated with the United States. It consists of four states – from west to east, Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae – that are spread across the Western Pacific Ocean. Together, the states comprise around 607 islands that cover a longitudinal distance of almost 2,700 km (1,678 mi) just north of the equator. They lie northeast of New Guinea, south of Guam and the Marianas, west of Nauru and the Marshall Islands, east of Palau and the Philippines, about 2,900 km (1,802 mi) north of eastern Australia and some 4,000 km (2,485 mi) southwest of the main islands of Hawaii.

Papua New Guinea Constitutional monarchy in Oceania

Papua New Guinea, officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea is a country in Oceania that occupies the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and its offshore islands in Melanesia, a region of the southwestern Pacific Ocean north of Australia. Its capital, located along its southeastern coast, is Port Moresby. The western half of New Guinea forms the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua. It is the world's 3rd largest island country with 462,840 km2 (178,700 sq mi).

Solomon Islands Country in Oceania

Solomon Islands is a sovereign state consisting of six major islands and over 900 smaller islands in Oceania lying to the east of Papua New Guinea and northwest of Vanuatu and covering a land area of 28,400 square kilometres (11,000 sq mi). The country's capital, Honiara, is located on the island of Guadalcanal. The country takes its name from the Solomon Islands archipelago, which is a collection of Melanesian islands that also includes the North Solomon Islands, but excludes outlying islands, such as Rennell and Bellona, and the Santa Cruz Islands.

The Federated States of Micronesia has two outlier cultures, Kapingamarangi and Nukuoro. Papua New Guinea has three: Nuguria, Nukumanu, and Takuu. The country with the most outlier cultures is the Solomon Islands, with seven (listed from north to south): Ontong Java (Luangiua), Sikaiana (the Stewart Islands), Vaeakau-Taumako (the Duff Islands and Reef Islands), Rennell and Bellona in the southwest, and Anuta and Tikopia in the southeast. Vanuatu has three: Emae, Mele (now known as Ifira-Mele) and Futuna-Aniwa (on Futuna Island and Aniwa Island). Futuna recognizes links with Tonga. New Caledonia has one Polynesian outlier culture on Ouvéa in the Loyalty Islands, where the Fagauvea language is spoken.

Kapingamarangi atoll of the Federated States of Micronesia.

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 (190 mi) south of the next southerly atoll, Nukuoro, and 740 km (460 mi) southwest of the main island of Pohnpei state; it forms a Polynesian outlier.

Nukuoro island group

Nukuoro is an atoll in the Federated States of Micronesia.

Nuguria island group

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 150 km from the northern end of Buka island, in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville and consist of two closely spaced atoll formations.


The outlier groups in Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, and the northern Solomon Islands speak Ellicean languages (which also includes Tuvaluan), while those further to the south in the Solomons, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia speak Futunic languages (which also includes the language of Wallis and Futuna). These are two of the branches of the Samoic language family, which is sometimes called the Samoan-Outlier language family for this reason. It is a sub-branch of the Nuclear Polynesian languages. In some of these islands, the outlier population may also speak the local Melanesian or Micronesian language.

Tuvaluan language language

Tuvaluan, often called Tuvalu, is a Polynesian language of or closely related to the Ellicean group spoken in Tuvalu. It is more or less distantly related to all other Polynesian languages, such as Hawaiian, Maori, Tahitian, Samoan, and Tongan, and most closely related to the languages spoken on the Polynesian Outliers in Micronesia and Northern and Central Melanesia. Tuvaluan has borrowed considerably from Samoan, the language of Christian missionaries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Wallis and Futuna Overseas collectivity of France

Wallis and Futuna, officially the Territory of the Wallis and Futuna Islands, is a French island collectivity in the South Pacific between Tuvalu to the northwest, Fiji to the southwest, Tonga to the southeast, Samoa to the east, and Tokelau to the northeast. Though both French and Polynesian, Wallis and Futuna is distinct from the entity known as French Polynesia.

The Samoic–Outlier languages, also known as Samoic languages, are a purported group of Polynesian languages, encompassing the Polynesian languages of Samoa, Tuvalu, American Samoa, Tokelau, Wallis and Futuna, and Polynesian outlier languages in New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, and the Federated States of Micronesia. The name "Samoic-Outlier" recognizes Sāmoan.


A 1983 study analyzing the DNA of 2400 people in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu have found markers which clearly distinguish the Polynesian outlier islands of the group. Of the four Polynesian outliers considered, Anuta was the most genetically distinct, followed by Rennell and Bellona. Tikopia showed more influence from the nearby Melanesian population. All indicate traces of inter-island population movements, and even sources from Europeans, Africans, and Asians, though the latter were at a low level. [2]

Sovereignty issues

Two of the more remote Polynesian outliers have disputed legal sovereignty:

Related Research Articles

Polynesian languages Language family

The Polynesian languages form a language family spoken in geographical Polynesia and on a patchwork of outliers from south central Micronesia to small islands off the northeast of the larger islands of the southeast Solomon Islands and sprinkled through Vanuatu. Linguistic taxonomists classify them as a subgroup of the much larger and more varied Austronesian family, belonging to the Oceanic branch of that family.

Pacific Islander indigenous peoples of the Pacific Islands

Pacific Islanders, or Pasifika, are the peoples of the Pacific Islands. It is a geographic and ethnic/racial term to describe the inhabitants and diaspora of any of the three major sub-regions of Oceania: Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia. These people speak various Austronesian languages. It is not used to describe non-native inhabitants of the Pacific islands.

Polynesians are an ethnolinguistic group of closely related peoples who are native to Polynesia, 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.

Tafea Province province of Vanuatu

Tafea is the southernmost of the six provinces of Vanuatu.

Rennell and Bellona Province Province in Tigoa, Solomon Islands

Rennell and Bellona is one of the nine provinces of Solomon Islands, comprising two inhabited atolls, Rennell and Bellona, or Mu Ngava and Mu Ngiki respectively in Rennellese, as well as the uninhabited Indispensable Reef. Rennell and Bellona are both Polynesian-inhabited islands within the predominantly Melanesian Solomons. They are thus considered Polynesian outliers. The first known European to sight the islands was Mathew Boyd of Camberwell, London, commander of the merchant ship, Bellona, in 1793. The province has a combined population of 3,041. The Samoic language of the islands is, in English texts, called Rennellese. The province's capital is Tigoa, on Rennell Island.

Bellona Island island

Bellona Island is an island of the Rennell and Bellona Province, in the Solomon Islands. Its length is about 10 km (6.2 mi) and its average width 2.5 km (1.6 mi). Its area is about 17 km2 (6.6 sq mi). It is almost totally surrounded by 30–70 m (100–230 ft) high cliffs, consisting primarily of raised coral limestone.

Melanesians Broad ethnolinguistic classification

Melanesians are the predominant and indigenous inhabitants of Melanesia, in a wide area from New Guinea to as far east as the islands of Vanuatu and Fiji. Most speak either one of the many languages of the Austronesian language family, especially ones in the Oceanic branch, or from one of the many unrelated families of Papuan languages. Other languages are the several creoles of the region, such as Tok Pisin, Hiri Motu, Solomon Islands Pijin, Bislama, and Papuan Malay.

Anuta island

Anuta is a small high island in the southeastern part of the Solomon Islands province of Temotu, one of the smallest permanently inhabited Polynesian islands. It is one of the Polynesian Outlier communities in Melanesia.

Tikopia island

Tikopia is a high island in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It is part of the Solomon Islands of Melanesia, but is culturally Polynesian. The first Europeans arrived on 22 April 1606 as part of the Spanish expedition of Pedro Fernandes de Queirós.

Oceanic languages language family

The approximately 450 Oceanic languages are a well-established branch of the Austronesian languages. The area occupied by speakers of these languages includes Polynesia, as well as much of Melanesia and Micronesia.

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.

Temotu Province Province in Lata, Solomon Islands

Temotu is the easternmost province of Solomon Islands. The province was formerly known as Santa Cruz Islands Province. It consists, essentially, of two chains of islands which run parallel to each other from the northwest to the southeast. Its area is 895 square kilometres.

Aniwa Island Island in Tafea Province, Vanuatu

Aniwa is a small island in the southernmost province of Tafea, Vanuatu.

Solomon Islands (archipelago) archipelago

The Solomon Islands are an archipelago in the western South Pacific Ocean, located northeast of Australia. They are in the Melanesia subregion and bioregion of Oceania. The archipelago forms much of the territory of Solomon Islands, while the northwestern islands are within the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, in eastern Papua New Guinea. It forms the eastern boundary of the Solomon Sea.

The Oceania Table Tennis Federation (OTTF) is a table tennis organization found on 1 June 1977, recognized by International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) as its continental federation in Oceania. Discussions began at the Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships held in Melbourne, 1975. Seven foundation members were New Zealand, Australia, Guam, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, New Caledonia and Tahiti.


  1. Feinberg, Richard and Richard Scaglion, eds. 2012. Polynesian Outliers: The State of the Art. Ethnology Monographs, No. 21. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.
  2. Blake, N.M.; Hawkins, B.R.; Kirk, R.L.; Bhatia, K.; Brown, P.; Garruto, R.M.; Gajdusek, D.C. (December 1983). "A population genetic study of the Banks and Torres Islands (Vanuatu) and of the Santa Cruz Islands and Polynesian Outliers (Solomon Islands)". American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 62 (4): 343–61. doi:10.1002/ajpa.1330620402. PMID   6607679.
  3. The U.S. Territory of Palmyra Island has a similar history.