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Inhabitants of the islands of the eastern central Pacific, from Hawaii to Easter Island and New Zealand. They show close affinity in physical features, language, and culture, and probably spread from a focal centre in the area of Samoa and Tonga within the past 3000–2000 years. The principal immigration of Maoris from the Marquesas into New Zealand is dated to about 1350 ad, though it was not the first. The origins of Polynesians are controversial. Some authorities, on the basis of their fair skin coloration, wavy hair, and stocky build relate them to the Caucasoids; they have also been regarded as close to the Melanesians. Probably the widest held view is that they are a distant offshoot of a Mongoloid population in south-east Asia.

Subjects: World History.

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