Story: Pacific migrations

The Pacific Ocean, showing Near Oceania

The Pacific Ocean, showing Near Oceania

Anthropologists piecing together the history of the Pacific introduced the terms Near Oceania and Remote Oceania. Near Oceania includes Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and the Bismarck Archipelago. These islands are generally bigger and closer together than those of Remote Oceania, which lies to the east. People settled Near Oceania, probably voyaging on crude rafts, from 50,000 to 25,000 BCE. Austronesians left Taiwan around 2000 BCE and gradually spread through Island South-East Asia. Around 1500 BCE Austronesian seafarers entered Near Oceania and intermingled with diverse groups already living there. A distinct cultural group, the Lapita people, evolved.

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How to cite this page:

Geoff Irwin, 'Pacific migrations - The world’s first seafarers', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 13 April 2024)

Story by Geoff Irwin, published 8 Feb 2005, reviewed & revised 8 Feb 2017