Where can I find information about the Pacific Islands?
Entry last updated: 26/09/23
The Pacific Islands are a group of islands spread across the South Pacific Ocean. They include the islands in Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. The economy of these small nations is largely based on agriculture, fishing and tourism, with some use of natural resources. New Zealand has a long standing relationship with many of the Pacific Islands and continues to provide support and aid in different ways.
Well-known Pacific Islands
Many island groupings are included in the Pacific Islands family. The most well-known and largest of these are listed here.
Papua New Guinea: The eastern half of the island of New Guinea has 3 main languages but more than 800 local languages or dialects.
Fiji: With more than 300 islands, Fiji is a popular tourist destination, making tourism a large part of the economy. Fiji gained independence from the British in 1970.
Samoa: Governed by New Zealand from 1920 until 1962, Samoa is made up of volcanic islands. The two main islands are Savai'i and Upolu.
Solomon Islands: A string of islands, mostly mountainous and covered in forest. The Soloman Islands gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1978.
Vanuatu: Once called the New Hebrides, this collection of islands became independent in 1980. Most of Vanuatu is mountainous and covered with tropical forests.
Kiribati: Scattered across a large area of the South Pacific, Kiribati is made up of many atolls (islands made of coral) and is in danger from rising sea levels due to climate change.
Tonga: One of the only South Pacific nations that still has a monarch (king or queen), along with a Prime Minister and Parliament. Nuku'alofa is the capital of Tonga.
Cook Islands: Another popular place for tourists to visit for the beautiful beaches and mountains. It has 15 islands, the main one is Rarotonga. Cook Islanders have New Zealand Citizenship and many live in New Zealand.
Facts and pictures
There are some excellent places to look for facts and information about the history, peoples and culture of the Pacific Islands.
This site is part of the Pacific Virtual Museum pilot project funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Australia and put together by the National Library of New Zealand and the National Library of Australia.
- Look down the page to Explore locations.
- Choose a place eg Niue.
- You can use Filter by and Media Type to look at only images, objects, videos, or audio.
Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are.
This is a reputable news website and a great place to find reliable and up-to-date information.
- Use the search box and enter the name of the island you are interested in and the keyword 'profile' eg 'Fiji profile'.
- Select the link that says Profile, like Fiji country profile.
- You will find some quick facts for each Pacific Island, as well as some key dates or a timeline.
Aimed at New Zealand's Pacific Island community, thecoconet.tv website has lots of cultural information, songs, recipes, stories, news, videos and more.
- Go to Moana Arts and explore the images on Coco Gallery or any of the other links to fashion, festivals and legends.
- How to will help you find cultural information on Samoa, Tonga, Niue etc.
- Use the Know your Roots Timeline to discover people, places and events in the history of the Pacific Islands.
Tips: Many web pages have links to further information. Following these links is a great way to find out more.
Articles and maps
These websites have more detailed information about the Pacific Islands.
This is one of the EPIC resources, a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics. Britannica allows you to choose a reading level to get more or less information.
- Choose the Middle level and enter the name of an island eg Solomon Islands or Vanuatu into the search box.
- Or, you could search for 'Pacific island' to bring up results of different Pacific nations.
- Try the Images & Videos and Related tabs to find more information.
This online version of the New Zealand Geographic magazine has some excellent articles about the Pacific Islands and Pacific peoples. It is part of the EPIC resources and you may need a password from your school or local library to access it.
- Use the search words 'Pacific Islands'.
- Results will include Painting the Pacific proud which is about the celebration of the Pacific Festival of Arts.
- There are also articles about the Cook Islands and Tokelau.
Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.
This site has interesting facts on a range of countries. It has been put together by a teacher and a team of young people. You will find information on Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
- Select the link to Fiji.
- Discover facts about the country of Fiji, its people, landmarks, animals, economy and food.
New Zealand and the Pacific Islands
Use these websites to discover New Zealand's long history of partnership and working with islands in the Pacific region.
Te Ara is an excellent starting point for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we look down to the bottom of the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.
- Go to Stories A-Z and find the letter P.
- Select Pacific Islands and New Zealand.
- Or, go to the section called New Zealand Peoples and select Peoples.
- Find links such as Fijian, Cook Islanders and Niueans to explore their communities in Aotearoa.
This site will help with understanding New Zealand's relationship with the Pacific Islands.
- Select Countries and Regions from the top menu, then select Australia and Pacific from the drop-down menu.
- Select the Pacific Island you want information on from the list in the second box eg Tonga.
- Use this page to find out about New Zealand's development and trade with Tonga.
This New Zealand government department is responsible for policies that improve life for Pacific peoples.
- Explore the tabs to read about the programmes, funding and events started by this government department to help Pacific people in Aotearoa.
Tips: We like sites like these because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have either .govt or .ac, meaning they are from government or educational organisations. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.
Many books have been published about the Pacific Islands. Here are a few you can look out for. Remember that you can limit your search by just looking for one of the islands, Fiji or Tonga for example.
- Pacific Islands by Jane Hinchey.
- Toakase's tapa and The walking tree by Jill MacGregor.
- Pacific Islands & Papua New Guinea: discover the country, culture and people by Jane Hinchey.
- Pacific history by Brent Coutts and Nicholas Fitness.
- Olympic Islands by David Riley.
SCIS no: 1832264
Reo, 'Ōlelo, Gagana (Pacific Languages)
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Where can I find facts and information about the Cook Islands, like Rarotonga?
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