Polynesia (pŏlĬnē´zhə, –shə) [Gr.,=many islands], one of the three main divisions of Oceania, in the central and S Pacific Ocean. The larger islands are volcanic; the smaller ones are generally coral formations. The principal groups are the Hawaiian Islands (see Hawaii), Samoa, Tonga, and the islands of French Polynesia. Ethnologically though not geographically, Polynesia also embraces New Zealand, which along with the Hawaiian Islands and Easter Island broadly demarcate the extent of Polynesian settlement in the Pacific, known as the Polynesian Triangle. Malayo-Polynesian languages are spoken in Polynesia. The Polynesians were skilled navigators and sailors, and the Pacific islands they settled were often separated by enormous expanses of open ocean.

See T. Barrow, Art and Life in Polynesia (1972); B. Finney, Voyage of Rediscovery: A Cultural Odyssey through Polynesia (1994).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Polynesia: Selected full-text books and articles

Ancient Voyagers in Polynesia By Andrew Sharp Longman Paul, 1963
A primary source is a work that is being studied, or that provides first-hand or direct evidence on a topic. Common types of primary sources include works of literature, historical documents, original philosophical writings, and religious texts.
Melanesia and the Western Polynesian Fringe By Glynn Barratt University of British Columbia Press, 1990
The Tuamotu Islands and Tahiti By Glynn Barratt University of British Columbia Press, 1992
The History of the Tahitian Mission, 1799-1830 By John Davies; C. W. Newbury Cambridge University Press, 1961
Southern and Eastern Polynesia By Glynn Barratt University of British Columbia Press, 1988
The Origins of the First New Zealanders By Douglas G. Sutton Auckland University Press, 1994
Hawaiki, Ancestral Polynesia: An Essay in Historical Anthropology By Patrick Vinton Kirch; Roger C. Green Cambridge University Press, 2001
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