Story: Pacific migrations

Coconuts and taro, Tongan market, 2002

Coconuts and taro, Tongan market, 2002

The Lapita people are the ancestors of the Polynesians. They fished, grew taro, yams and breadfruit, and kept pigs, dogs and chickens. Many words for foods in Polynesian languages are very similar, and linguists have used them to help reconstruct the proto-Austronesian language of the Lapita. For instance the word for taro – talo in Tongan – was tales in the Lapita language.

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Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
Photograph by Carl Walrond

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How to cite this page:

Geoff Irwin, 'Pacific migrations - Into Remote Oceania: Lapita people', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 20 August 2022)

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