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Pacific Islander (or Pacific Person, pl: Pacific People, also called Oceanic[s]), is a geographic term to describe the Austronesian , and Australiod inhabitants of any of the three major sub-regions of Oceania: Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia.[1][2] According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, these three regions, together with their islands consist of:

Polynesia: The islands scattered across a triangle covering the east-central region of the Pacific Ocean. The triangle is bounded by the Hawaiian islands in the north, New Zealand in the west, and Easter Island in the east. The rest of Polynesia comprises Samoan islands (American Samoa and Samoa), the Cook Islands, French Polynesia (Tahiti and The Society Islands, Marquesas Islands, Austral Islands, and the Tuamotu Archipelago), Niue Island, Tokelau and Tuvalu, Tonga, Wallis and Futuna, and Pitcairn Island.

Melanesia: The island of New Guinea, the Bismarck and Louisiade archipelagos, the Admiralty Islands, and Bougainville Island (which make up the independent state of Papua New Guinea), the Solomon Islands, the Santa Cruz Islands (part of the Solomon Islands),New Caledonia and Loyalty Islands, Vanuatu (formerly New Hebrides), Fiji, Norfolk Island, and various smaller islands.

Micronesia: The islands of Kiribati, Guam, Nauru, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia (Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae, all in the Caroline Islands).

Usage of term in Australia, New Zealand and United States[edit | edit source]

Template:Pacific Islander American map

In Australia the term South Sea Islander was used in the past to describe Australian descendants of people from the more than 80 islands in the Western Pacific.[3] In 1901 legislation was enacted to restrict entry of Pacific Islanders to Australia and to facilitate their deportation: Pacific Island Labourers Act 1901. In the legislation Pacific Islanders were defined as:

“Pacific Island Labourer” includes all natives not of European extraction of any island except the islands of New Zealand situated in the Pacific Ocean beyond the Commonwealth [of Australia] as constituted at the commencement of this Act.[4]

In 2008 a newly announced Pacific Islander guestworker scheme provides visas for workers from Kiribati, Tonga, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea to work in Australia.[5] The pilot scheme includes one country each from Melanesia (Vanuatu), Polynesia (Tonga) and Micronesia (Kiribati): countries which already send workers to New Zealand under its seasonal labour scheme. Australia’s pilot scheme also includes Papua New Guinea.[6][7]

Local usage in New Zealand uses the term to distinguish those who have emigrated from one of these areas in modern times from the indigenous New Zealand Māori (who are also Polynesian but arrived in New Zealand many centuries earlier), and from other ethnic groups. A stated reason for making the ethnic distinction is that the Pacific peoples suffer from socio-economic disadvantages as a group and benefit from culturally targeted social and health assistance.

In the United States, the geographic location of "Pacific Islander" is the same, but is generally understood as a reference to indigenous natives of Hawaii. Pacific Islanders are defined as a native or inhabitant of any of the Polynesian, Micronesian, or Melanesian islands of Oceania. Some examples of the ethnic groups that would be considered Pacific Islanders are the indigenous peoples of Hawaii, the Marianas, Samoans, Guamanian, Chamoru,Tahitians, Mariana Islander, and Chuukese.[8][9]

Excluded[edit | edit source]

Inhabitants of the following islands and regions are not considered to be Pacific Islanders: Russia's Kuril Islands, Alaska's Aleutian Islands, Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines as they are not located within the three regions of Oceania (Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia).[10][11]

List of Pacific peoples[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Pacific islander on Encarta.
  2. Pacific islander on
  3. (2004). South Sea Islander Project. ABC Radio Regional Production Fund. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. URL accessed on 2008-08-27.
  4. (1901). Pacific Island Labourers Act 1901 (Cth). (PDF) Documenting a Democracy. National Archives of Australia. URL accessed on 2008-08-27.
  5. includeonly>"Pacific guestworker scheme to start this year", Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2008-08-17.
  6. Template:Cite press
  7. Note that Australian classification standards code Pacific Islander, Oceanian, South Sea islander and Australasian all with code 1000 - ie identically. This coding can be broken down into the finer classification of 1100 Australian Peoples ; 1200 New Zealand Peoples ; 1300 Melanesian and Papuan ; 1400 Micronesian ; 1500 Polynesian. Note that there is no specific coding therefor for "Pacific islander". See: Australian Standard Classification of Cultural and Ethnic Groups (ASCCEG) - 2nd edition. (pdf - 136 pages) Australian Bureau of Statistics. URL accessed on 2008-08-27.
  8. 1990 Census of Population and Housing Public Use Microdata Sample
  9. Census 1990: Ancestry Codes. University of Michigan.
  10. Pacific islander. Encarta. URL accessed on 2008-09-12.

External links[edit | edit source]

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