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Samoan manaia 1896.jpg
Webber poedua.jpg
Robert Dampier (1800–1874), Nahiennaena (1825).jpg
Rewi Manga Maniapoto, by Gottfried Lindauer.jpg
Ika kaha.jpg
Kiekie yams.jpg
Woven Walls of Niue House, Memoirs Bishop Museum, Vol. II, Fig. 43.jpg
Dancer, Tuvalu stage, 2011 Pasifika festival.jpg
Total population
Regions with significant populations
 New Zealand 350,000[2]
 USA 300,000
English and Polynesian languages (Tahitian, Samoan, Tongan, Māori, Hawaiian and others)
Christianity and Polynesian mythology[3]

The Polynesian people consists of various ethnic groups that speak Polynesian languages, a branch of the Oceanic languages , and inhabit Polynesia. The native Polynesian people of New Zealand and Hawaii are minorities of their homelands.


The Polynesian spread of colonization in the Pacific
The spread of the Polynesian group, as referred to by Anthropologist Ruth Benedict in the 1934 book "Patterns of Culture".
Polynesian warrior canoes

Recent maternal mitochondrial DNA analysis suggests that Polynesians, including Samoans, Tongans, Niueans, Cook Islands Māori, Tahitian Mā'ohi, Hawaiian Māoli, Marquesans and New Zealand Māori, are genetically linked to indigenous peoples of parts of Southeast Asia including those of Taiwan.[4] This DNA evidence is supported by linguistic[5] and archaeological evidence.

Melton et al. (1995, 1998) have suggested a Taiwanese origin for the Polynesians, on the basis of mtDNA variation, but Richards et al. (1998) argued that an East Indonesian (Flores, Sumba, Lembata, Alor, Timor, Sulawesi, Moluccas) origin is more likely.[6][7][8]

A 2000 study into paternal Y chromosome analysis showed that Polynesians are also genetically linked to peoples of Melanesia.[9]

The "out of Taiwan model" was challenged by a 2008 study from Leeds University which was published in Molecular Biology and Evolution. Examination of mitochondrial DNA lineages shows that they have been evolving within Island Southeast Asia (ISEA) for a longer period than previously believed. Polynesians arrived in the Bismarck Archipelago of Papua New Guinea at least 6,000 to 8,000 years ago, and modern Polynesians are the result of a few Austronesian seafarers mixing with Melanesians.[10]

A study in 2008 argued that "79% of the Polynesian autosomal gene pool is of East Asian origin and 21% is of Melanesian origin."[11]

A study in 2008 argued that Polynesians are distinctive, and "tend to cluster with Micronesians, Taiwan Aborigines, and East Asians, and not Melanesians." The study's conclusion was that "the ancestors of Polynesians moved through Melanesia relatively rapidly."[12]


Female dancers of the Hawaii Islands depicted by Louis Choris, c. 1816
A portrait of Māori man, by Gottfried Lindauer.
Kava ('ava) makers (aumaga) of Samoa. A woman seated between two men with the round tanoa (or laulau) wooden bowl in front. Standing is a third man, distributor of the 'ava, holding the coconut shell cup (tauau) used for distributing the beverage.

The Polynesian peoples are shown below in there distinctive cultural groupings (populations of the larger groups are shown):

Eastern Polynesia

Western Polynesia

Polynesian outliers

Estimated total population: 2 million[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Polynesian men a global sports commodity - Stuff.co.nz
  2. ^ Population Movement in the Pacific: A Perspective on Future Prospects. Wellington: New Zealand Department of Labour
  3. ^ Victoria University of Wellington, New view of Polynesian conversion to Christianity, 4 Apr 2014
  4. ^ (2005) "Mitochondrial DNA Provides a Link between Polynesians and Indigenous Taiwanese". PLoS Biology 3(8): e281. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0030281
  5. ^ "Pacific People Spread From Taiwan, Language Evolution Study Shows". ScienceDaily. 27 January 2009. Retrieved 29 April 2010. 
  6. ^ Cristian Capelli, James F. Wilson, Martin Richards, Michael P. H. Stumpf, Fiona Gratrix, Stephen Oppenheimer, Peter Underhill, Vincenzo L. Pascali, Tsang-Ming Ko, & David B. Goldstein (2001). "A Predominantly Indigenous Paternal Heritage for the Austronesian-Speaking Peoples of Insular Southeast Asia and Oceania". American Journal of Human Genetics 68 (2): 432–443. doi:10.1086/318205. PMC 1235276. PMID 11170891. 
  7. ^ For a discussion of the origins of Eastern Polynesians, particularly the Māori of New Zealand, see: Douglas G. Sutton, ed., The Origins of the First New Zealanders (Auckland, New Zealand: Auckland, 1994).
  8. ^ Major East–West Division Underlies Y Chromosome Stratification across Indonesia, Mol Biol Evol (2010) 27 (8): 1833-1844.doi: 10.1093/molbev/msq063
  9. ^ M. Kayser, S. Brauer, G. Weiss, P.A. Underhill, L. Roewer, W. Schiefenhövel, and M. Stoneking, "Melanesian origin of Polynesian Y chromosomes," Current Biology, vol. 10, no. 20, pages 1237-1246 (19 Oct. 2000). See also correction in: Current Biology, vol. 11, no. 2, pages 141-142 (23 Jan. 2001).
  10. ^ Dr. Martin Richards. "Climate Change and Postglacial Human Dispersals in Southeast Asia". Oxford Journals. Retrieved 2010. 
  11. ^ Kayser, Manfred, Oscar Lao, Kathrin Saar, Silke Brauer, Xingyu Wang, Peter Nürnberg, Ronald J. Trent, and Mark Stoneking. "Genome-wide analysis indicates more Asian than Melanesian ancestry of Polynesians." The American Journal of Human Genetics 82, no. 1 (2008): 194-198.
  12. ^ Friedlaender, Jonathan S., Françoise R. Friedlaender, Floyd A. Reed, Kenneth K. Kidd, Judith R. Kidd, Geoffrey K. Chambers, Rodney A. Lea et al. "The genetic structure of Pacific Islanders." PLoS genetics 4, no. 1 (2008): e19.

External links[edit]