Story: Pacific migrations

Polynesian plainware from Teouma, Vanuatu

Polynesian plainware from Teouma, Vanuatu

The Lapita people rapidly expanded south-east from the Solomon Islands into the archipelagoes of Remote Oceania: Vanuatu, the Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia, Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa, around 1000 BCE. After the Lapita arrived in central Polynesia, a distinct Polynesian culture slowly evolved in Fiji, Samoa and Tonga. The Lapita pottery became less decorative, and anthropologists now refer to this undecorated style as Polynesian plainware. Eventually, in most islands pottery-making died out altogether.

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University of Auckland, Department of Anthropology, Anthropology Photographic Archive
Photograph by Tim Mackrell

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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 6 July 2022)

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