Oceanic Mythologies: Australian Aborigine and Polynesian

The Polynesians: From New Zealand to Hawaii

Where did the Polynesians come from?

The origins of the Polynesians has always been a controversial topic. The dominant theory holds that in about 4500 B.C.E. a migration began from south China of people speaking an Austronesian language, the family of which the Polynesian languages are members. It is thought that Taiwan was the first land to be colonized by these people, who eventually moved to what are now New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. Other scholars argue a much longer presence in Papua New Guinea and other islands. Still others suggest a mingling of ancient Melanesian peoples already on the Pacific Islands with the Austronesian settlers, resulting in what today we call Polynesians. Whatever their origins, we know that the Polynesians were skilled seafarers and that their migration from island to island in double-hulled canoes involved that skill. We know that by about 1250 C.E., Polynesian culture dominated in the so-called Polynesian Triangle that includes Hawaii in the north, Easter Island in the east, and New Zealand in the south.


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