Brought to you by Smarthistory. The islands of the eastern Pacific are known as Polynesia, from the Greek for "many islands." Set within a triangle formed by Aotearoa (New Zealand) in the south, Hawaii to the north and Rapa Nui (Easter Island) in the east, the Polynesian islands are dotted across the vast eastern Pacific Ocean. Though small and separated by thousands of miles, they share similar environments and were settled by people with a common cultural heritage. The western Polynesian islands of Fiji and Tonga were settled approximately 3,000 years ago, whilst New Zealand was settled as recently as 1200 C.E.