The OAA was founded as Oceania Amateur Athletic Organization (OAAA) on August 21, 1969, during a "Congress of the delegates of Member Countries of the Australasian Area" held in Port Moresby, then Territory of Papua and New Guinea, at the time of the 3rd South Pacific Games. The name was changed to Oceania Athletics Organization in February 2007.
The current president of the association, Geoff Gardner (Norfolk Island) was firstly elected at the OAA Council held in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, in February 2007. and re-elected on February 4, 2011 at the OAA Council held in Tweed Heads, New South Wales, Australia.
In 2011, a new regional concept was introduced, and the three regional championships and the Oceania Championships were unified to the Oceania Regional (or Area) Championships, or simply again Oceania Championships. Two regions "East" and "West" were classified. Athletes from the two regions may compete together at the championships, but results will be separated for rankings purposes, and medals are awarded separately.
A modification of Article 4.2 of the IAAF constitution set new rules limiting its membership as follows: "The national governing body for Athletics in any Country or Territory shall be eligible for Membership. Members that represented Territories on 31 December 2005 shall continue to be Members. No new Territories shall be admitted to the Membership."
As a consequence the OAA made constitutional amendments to its Article 2.5 introducing an associate membership to allow territories like New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna, and Niue to participate officially "in OAA activities, including area and regional competitions." This also applies for Tokelau where the first athletics event ever took place recently.