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a group of related peoples—the indigenous population of Polynesia and a number of small islands of eastern Melanesia. Polynesians include the Tongans (Tonga Islands), Samoans (Samoan Islands), Uveans (Wallis Islands), Futunans (Hoorn Islands), Tuvaluans (Tuvalu Islands), Tokelauans (Tokelau Islands), Niueans (Niue Island), Pukapukans, Raro-tongans, Mangaians, Tongarevans, Manihiki Rakahangans, and others (Cook Islands), Tahitians (Society Islands), Tubuaians (Tubuai Islands), Tuamotuans, Napukans, and Reao-Pukaru-hans (Tuamotu Islands), Mangarevans (Gambier Islands), Hivans (Marquesas Islands), Rapanuians (Easter Island), Ha-waiians (Hawaiian Islands), and Maoris (New Zealand). The total number is about 750,000 (1970 estimate).

The languages of the Polynesians belong to the Malayo-Polynesian family of languages. Christianity, the dominant religion, is combined by the Polynesians with ancient beliefs. The anthropological type of the Polynesians evolved as a result of the mixing of ancient southern Mongoloids and Negro Australoids. T. Heyerdahl defends the theory of the American origin of Polynesians, but most researchers believe that the Polynesians’ ancestors were groups of mariners who came from Southeast Asia across Melanesia and Micronesia to the western frontiers of Polynesia. Here, in conditions of comparative isolation, the evolution of the anthropological type of the Polynesians and the basic features of the general Polynesian culture was completed.

The settlement by the Polynesians of the numerous islands of Polynesia probably began in the middle of the first millennium B.C. and continued for more than two millennia. Despite the limited natural resources of the islands, specifically the absence of metals, the Polynesians managed to create a relatively high culture. Their main occupations were fishing and tropical land cultivation, in some places with the use of fertilizers and artificial irrigation. They raised pigs, dogs, and chickens and engaged in various crafts, which had already become dissociated from land cultivation.

By the beginning of the European colonization in the late 18th century, the Polynesians were at various stages of the disintegration of the primitive clan system, and on the Hawaiian Islands, Tahiti, and Tonga early class states were evolving.

The rule of the colonizers led to a considerable decrease in the number of Polynesians, to the Polynesians’ loss of the best lands, and to the destruction of many aspects of the distinctive Polynesian culture. On many islands capitalist relations became dominant, although vestiges of the primitive clan structure remained.

Today, Polynesians engage in semisubsistence farming and work on capitalist plantations; a small intelligentsia has emerged. The Polynesians are waging a struggle for national liberation. In 1962, Western Samoa achieved national independence.


Narody Avstralii i Okeanii. Moscow, 1956.
Te Rangi Hiroa. Moreplavateli solnechnogo voskhoda. Moscow, 1959.
Tumarkin, D. D. “Tur Kheierdal i problema zaseleniia Polinezii.” In Avstraliia i Okeaniia (Istoriia i sovremennost’). Moscow, 1970.
Suggs, R. C. The Island Civilizations of Polynesia. New York, 1960.
Polynesian Culture History. Honolulu, 1967.


References in classic literature ?
She was truly a princess, Polynesian, a thousand miles and more away to the eastward and the south from Delaney's Isle of Love.
Unlike the Diana type of Polynesian, she was almost ethereal.
It is an atoll, while the Solomons are high islands; and its people and language are Polynesian, while the inhabitants of the Solomons are Melanesian.
Lord Howe has been populated by the westward Polynesian drift which continues to this day, big outrigger canoes being washed upon its beaches by the southeast trade.
In the 18th century, this work would already have been thought of in Polynesia as an antiquity from another culture, and bears witness to a further layer in the history of the collecting of Pacific objects--that by Polynesians themselves.
Previous evidence suggested that Polynesians settled Rapa Nui around 1200.
Perhaps the most striking example of sex-biased language change however comes from a genetic study on the prehistoric encounter of expanding Polynesians with resident Melanesians in New Guinea and the neighboring Admiralty Islands.
Archaeologists have said that the Lapita peoples - probably from China and Southeast Asia - who colonised Pacific islands between about 1400BC and 900BC became the Polynesians who settled several island groups outwards out of Tonga and Samoa beginning about 500BC, arriving in the Marquesas about 300AD, the Hawaiian islands by 800AD to 900AD, and finally in New Zealand about 1200.
It's a trend that is blossoming throughout the Pac-10 Conference, with more and more Polynesians filling out football rosters.
To sail from Hawaii to Tahiti, the Polynesians probably passed through the Tuamotus, the researchers say.
Scholars find it disappointing and puzzling that the Polynesians left behind nothing more than chicken bones.
Losing A Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA, and the Mormon Church explores the discoveries of recent DNA research, which correlates what the Church of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) have taught for 175 years--that Native Americans and Polynesians are descended from ancient seafaring Israelites.