Culture of other Islands
There are approximately three dozen distinct groups of Polynesian people. The Polynesian
Cultural Center showcases the people and island nations of Hawai’i, Samoa, Aotearoa (New
Zealand), Fiji, Tahiti and Tonga. In addition, we have a Marquesas tohua (ceremonial
structure) currently closed to visitors, and the Rapa Nui (Easter Island) exhibit featuring
seven hand-carved moai or stone statues.
- Cook Islands
The Cook Islands, is the largest group of Polynesian people who have yet to be represented
at the Polynesian Cultural Center, although a number of Cook Islanders attend Brigham
Young University Hawai’i and work at the Center. Population 17,379 in 2018. History &
Discovery The traditions of the Cook Island Maori, as they call themselves, trace their
ancestry on the southern islands back to Tahiti and the Marquesas over 1,000 years ago,
with Samoan and Tongan migrations settling in the northern islands. Cook Island tradition
also says some of the New Zealand Maori migrations originated in their islands. The
Spaniard Mendaña spotted the northern Cook Island of Pukapuka in 1595, during his same
journey from South America to the Philippines that he also discovered the Marquesas and
Tuvalu. The Cook Islands are obviously named after British explorer Capt. James Cook, who
sighted them in 1770, although the islands didn’t become a British protectorate until 1888.
Government By 1900, Great Britain transferred administrative control over the islands to
New Zealand. In 1965 the people chose a self-government status in free association with
New Zealand. Consequently, a relatively large number of Rarotongans or Cook Islanders live
in New Zealand. The majority of the population lives among the eight elevated southern
islands, with its capital on Rarotonga. Geography There are also seven low-lying, sparsely
populated northern islands.
Niue is the largest coral island in the world.
It is situated in the South Pacific Ocean along the westernmost edge of the Cook Islands and is 240 miles east of Tonga. Are this island measures approximately 100 square miles, or about 1.5 times larger than Washington
In 2020, Niue recorded a population of 1,626 (2020 Worldmeter) History & Discovery Research shows that Samoans settled the island around AD900. According to tradition, a war party from Tonga arrived in the 16th century. In 1774 Captain James Cook sighted Niue, but was prevented from landing three times by Niuean warriors. Cook made the effort to chart the island, naming it Savage Island in his documentation.
Although geographically part of the Cook Islands, Niue is an admistratively separate, selfgoverning territory in free association with New Zealand.
Niuean and English.
Tuvalu is situated in the South Pacific Ocean, about half-way between Hawai’i and Australia. Area Tuvalu consists of nine coral atolls totaling less than approximately 10 square miles (26 sq km) or about 1/10th the size of Washington, D.C.
As of 2020, Worldmeter shows the current population of Tuvalu as 11,759. History & Discovery It has been determined that Samoans arrived sometime during the 14th century. Immigrants from Tonga, the northern Cook Islands, Rotuma, and the Gilbert Islands soon followed. The smallest and southernmost island remained uninhabited until European contact. The other eight islands were settled by the 18th century. Is was from this discovery that the name “Tuvalu” or “Cluster of Eight” was established. The Spanish explorer Alvaro de Mendana de
Neira was the first European to discover the islands in the late 16th century.
Under ethnic strain, the Polynesians of Ellice Islands voted for separation for from the Micronesians of the Gilbert Islands in 1974. One year later, the Ellice Islands became Tuvalu, a separate British Colony. Tuvalu declared democracy.
Tuvaluan and English.
- Wallis & Futuna
History & DiscoveryScientific evidence indicates Wallis, traditionally called Uvea, and Futuna —located between Samoa and Fiji — were historically settled over 2,000 years ago. About 500 years ago marauding Tongans captured the islands and intermarried with the Polynesian people there. British navigator Samuel Wallis discovered Uvea in 1767, but the
islands have been under French administration since 1842.
Today about 9,500 Polynesians live on Wallis and about 5,000 on Futuna. A relatively large number of
Wallisians also live in New Caledonia and Vanuatu, which was previously a French territory.
French, Wallisian (‘Uvean) and Futunian.
- Truant Archipelago
The Truant Archipelago is located in French Polynesia.
The population is approximately 15,000.
History & Discovery
Ferdinand Magellan sighted Pukapuka atoll as he crossed the Pacific in 1521. Iron cannons recovered on Amanu suggest that the Spanish caravel, San Lesmes, shipwrecked there in 1526. The Tuamotus were also visited by
Portuguese explorer Pegro Fernandez de Quiros in 1606. In 1844, the islands came under French protection and were annexed in 1880 as a Tahitian dependency.
The island is now part of the iles du Vent circonscription (“circumscription”) within the self-governing overseas territory of French Polynesia. It has been under French rule since 1842.
French (official), Tahitian (official) and Tuamotu
Half way between Hawai’i and New Zealand in the South Pacific Ocean
Three islands totaling 3.9 square miles (10.1 kilometers).
1,458 (July 2000 est.)
Linguistic analysis indicates that Tokelau was settled from
Samoa. British commodore John Byron was the first European visitor, and gave the smallest
island, Atafu, the name Duke of York Island. Captain Edwards of HMS Pandora sighted the
largest island, Nukunono, while searching for HMS Bounty mutineers in 1791. He
subsequently named it Duke of Clarence Island.
The Tokelau Islands became a
British protectorate in 1889 and were transferred to New Zealand administration in
Tokelauan, English and Samoan.
About halfway between Peru and New Zealand in the South Pacific
47 square kilometers, or about 1/3 the size of Washington, D.C. The main
island, Pitcairn, is a rugged half crater of about 2 square miles girded by precipitous coastal
cliffs rising 1,100 feet from the ocean.
Less than 50. Of four relatively close
islands — Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie, and Oeno Island — only Pitcairn is inhabited.
Emigration to New Zealand has reduced the population from its peak of 233 in 1937. In
1831 the islanders were briefly sent to Tahiti, but soon returned. A number of them were
also sent to Norfolk Island, where some remain. Others have migrated to New
British naval officer Philip Carteret discovered Pitcairn Island in 1767,
naming it after the sailor who first sighted the island. In 1790, Fletcher Christian led the
mutineers of the British ship HMS Bounty to the island. They and their Tahitian companions
settled there. Their descendants now populate the island. Fletcher Christian and eight other
HMS Bounty mutineers — along with six Polynesian men, 12 women and a baby from Tahiti
— made Pitcairn island famous in 1789 as their final home. In 1793 five of the mutineers,
including Christian, and all the Polynesian men were killed in a revolt. Only John Adams
survived past 1800. Outside contact was re-established with the arrival of an American ship
in 1808. A small number of descendants remain on the island today.
territory of the United Kingdom. Pitcairn was the first South Pacific island to come under
British colonial power, and the last to remain so.
English (official) and Pitcairnese (a mixture of 18th century English and Tahitian)