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Hawaiian & Pacific Islander History

Dörrbecker, Maximillian. (2018). Map of the Territorial Waters of the Pacific Ocean. [Modified Image]. Wikipedia.

Three major regions, thirty-three distinct peoples, and a varying number of islands depending on who you are asking and the underlying sociopolitical context. Put them together, and you have the Pacific Islands.

  • Another common term for the Pacific Islands, Oceania, excludes landmasses that are part of continental countries, such as the Japan archipelago and the islands of Alaska.

  • The history of the earliest settled Pacific Islands begins around 4000 years ago in 2000 BCE, when the islands immediately to the east of Australia and New Guinea are settled in the major region referred to as Melanesia.

  • Seven hundred years later, Fiji is reached in 1300 BCE, midway between the major regions of Melanesia and Polynesia.

  • 1100 more years pass before Samoa displays its earliest signs of human occupation from 200 BCE, followed by Hawaii in 400 CE, Easter Island in 500 CE, and Tahiti in 600 CE.

  • Last comes New Zealand, whose earliest signs of human habitation stem from 800 CE.

  • The third and final major region of the Pacific Islands is Micronesia, which is directly north of Melanesia and to the northwest of Polynesia.

Gascoigne, B. (2001). HISTORY OF THE PACIFIC ISLANDS. Retrieved September 02, 2020, from

University of Hawai'i-West O'ahu

  • Historical Resources (on the right side of the page)

    • Sites on land documents, oral history, digital collections, the Hawaiian Journal of History, and so much more with which the University of Hawai'i is involved; information and documents are freely available to all.
  • Other Resources (on the right side of the page)

    • University of Hawai'i Press open-access eBooks, state archives for moving images, a geographical information system which links the land with native Hawai'ian culture and history, and much more!
  • Selected Journals (on the right hand side)

    • A few of these journals that focus on Hawai'i and the Pacific are open access, and do not require a university login or paid subscription in order to access.
  • Curated Internet Resources

    • Virtual tours of cultural collections, compilations of visual media, an electronic library, and more with a specific Hawai'i/Pacific Island focus, a number of which are open access.

CC ByJames & Abigail Campbell Library at University of Hawai'i-West O'ahu

Books - Pacific Island