Where can I find information about the Pacific Islands?
Entry last updated: 23/01/20
The Pacific Islands are a group of islands spread across the South Pacific Ocean. 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 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 and tourism is 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. Political tensions have made it difficult for the economy to grow.
Vanuatu: Once called the New Hebrides, this collection of islands gained independence in 1980. Although hit by a strong cyclone in 2015, Vanuatu continues to welcome visitors from around the world.
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 of 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.
Cook Islands (Rarotonga): Another popular place for tourists to visit for the beautiful beaches and mountains. 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 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.
- Select the result that says Profile, like Fiji country profile.
You will find some introductory facts for each Pacific Island, as well as some key dates which can be extended to a fuller timeline.
National Geographic is known for its illustrated magazine and the website has a good range of images and videos of many countries.
- Entering 'Pacific Islands' into the search box will bring up a long list of results.
- From here you can choose Photography to view photos and pictures.
- You can also choose Videos or Television to find video clips.
Tips: Websites that have .com or .co 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 company’s mission and values are.
This site is aimed at younger students and has a section on Pasifika. Here you can find out about people and places in the South Pacific through fun online activities, as well as reading digital legends based on traditional stories.
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 - for more information we suggest using the Secondary option.
- Choose the Secondary level and put in your keywords 'Pacific islands'.
- This will bring up the Pacific Islands entry, an extensive article with historical information that explains the various independence movements.
- Try the Images & Videos and Related tabs to find more information.
The New Zealand version of the 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 phrase 'Pacific Islands'.
- Results will include Painting the Pacific proud and Pacific Beat, which are about a festival held every four years showcasing the music, arts and traditions of the Pacific nations.
- In addition, you will find separate articles on 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 resource concentrates on the natural environment with a good contents list at the beginning of each article, and the information follows a standard format for each country.
- Enter the name of your chosen country or island.
- As well as some written information, you will find maps in a few different styles, including local maps, world maps and satellite views.
New Zealand and the Pacific Islands
New Zealand has a long history of partnership and working with islands in the Pacific region.
Although this is an excellent starting point for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa, you will also find useful information relating to the Pacific Islands. If we scroll 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 and find the letter P.
- Select Pacific Islands and New Zealand.
You can choose from a number of topics here, and remember to look at the External links and sources for other suggested resources.
This site will help with understanding about New Zealand's relationship with the Pacific Islands:
- select one of the Islands
- read the quick facts and other information
- use the country listing below the map to find more information.
This New Zealand government department is responsible for policies that improve life for Pacific peoples. There is lots of information here, including a population breakdown of New Zealand's Pacific Island residents.
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.
This is a dedicated Pacific news website for New Zealand. It includes relevant national and world news, as well as a section that focuses on the Pacific Perspective.
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.
- Illustrated history of the South Pacific by Marcia Stenson.
- Toakase's tapa and The walking tree by Jill MacGregor.
- Pacific Island legends : tales from Micronesia, Melanesia, Polynesia, and Australia by Bo Flood, Beret Strong and William flood.
- Pacific atlas : a political, historical & cultural atlas of Australia, New Zealand & the Pacific Islands by Michael Vidulich.
- Olympic Islands by David Riley.