The Polynesian Triangle is a region of the Pacific Ocean with three island groups at its corners: Hawaiʻi (formerly "the Sandwich Islands"), Easter Island (Rapa Nui) and New Zealand (Aotearoa). It is often used as a simple way to define Polynesia.
Today, the most numerous Polynesian peoples are the Māori, Hawaiians, Tongans, Samoans, and Tahitians. The native languages of this vast triangle are Polynesian languages, which are classified by linguists as part of the Oceanic subgroup of Malayo-Polynesian. They ultimately derive from the proto-Austronesian language spoken in Southeast Asia 5,000 years ago. There are also numerous Polynesian Outlier islands outside the triangle in neighboring Melanesia and Micronesia.
Anthropologists believe that all modern Polynesian cultures descend from a single protoculture established in the South Pacific by migrant Malayo-Polynesian people (see also Lapita). There is also some evidence that Polynesians ventured as far east as the Isla Salas y Gómez and as far south as the subantarctic islands to the south of New Zealand, however none of these islands are reckoned with Polynesia proper, as no viable settlements have survived. A shard of pottery has been found in the Antipodes Islands, and is now in the Te Papa museum in Wellington, and there are also remains of a Polynesian settlement dating back to the 13th century on Enderby Island in the Auckland Islands.
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