added by archaeologs A vast region of scattered islands in the central Pacific occupied by closely related ethnic groups, falling mostly within a triangle made up of the Hawaiian Islands, New Zealand, and Easter Island. Western Polynesia was settled by Austronesian speakers from Southeast Asia (Lapita culture) around 1500 BC, and migrations progressed throughout the triangle until New Zealand was reached c 900 AD. The Polynesians are a homogeneous population in terms of language and social organization, which developed into powerful chiefdoms in the larger islands. The Polynesian economy was based on tuber and fruit horticulture. Pottery production ceased in Western Polynesia c 300 AD and was never present in most eastern islands nor in New Zealand. Western Polynesia consists of Tonga, Samoa, and Tuvalu; Eastern Polynesia includes the Society, Cook, Austral, Marquesas, Tuamotu, and Hawaiian Islands, Easter Island, and New Zealand.