Story: Pacific migrations

The direction and timing of settlement

The direction and timing of settlement

It is commonly held that the ancestors of Polynesians originated in the area around Taiwan and then moved south and east. They mixed with Melanesian peoples already living in Near Oceania, and over time the culture known as Lapita developed. Lapita people eventually settled Fiji, Samoa and Tonga, where the Polynesian culture emerged. Late in the first millennium Polynesians sailed east into French Polynesia. They then migrated to the Marquesas, Hawaii, Easter Island and New Zealand between 1200 and 1300 CE.

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How to cite this page:

Geoff Irwin, 'Pacific migrations - From West to East Polynesia', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 2 April 2023)

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