Pacific Islander (or Pacific Person, pl: Pacific People, also called Oceanic[s]), is a geographic term to describe the Austronesian inhabitants of any of the three major sub-regions of Oceania: Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia. According to the Encyclopaedia 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 Samoa (American Samoa and Western Samoa), the Cook Islands, French Polynesia (Tahiti and The Society Islands, Marquesa 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, and the Federated States of Micronesia (Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrate, all in the Caroline Islands).
“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.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. 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.
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 Kingdom, the term "Pacific Islander" refers to people originating from the islands of the Pacific (excluding the larger islands of Australia and New Zealand - see Pacific Islander British).
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.
Inhabitants of the following islands and regions are not considered to be Pacific Islanders: Russia's Kuril Islands, Alaska's Aleutian Islands, Taiwan, Philippines, Japan and Indonesia islands, which although technically bordering edges of the Pacific Ocean, do not fall under the definition of "Pacific Islanders" because such islands are not actually located within the three regions of Oceania (Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia).