Course: Polynesian Languages

Times: 1:30 - 5pm

Dates: Monday and Tuesday, 2-3 December 2019

Instructor:  Dr Sally Akevai Nicholas, Massey University of New Zealand

Registration: Please register here for Summer School 2019



The Polynesian language family is a subgroup of the large Austronesian language family and includes all the languages from within what’s called the Polynesian triangle, as well as some languages from other places to the west. Polynesia is often described as being remote, but from the Polynesian perspective this seems backwards.

In this short course we will learn about the history and some elements of the contemporary linguistic context for Polynesian peoples and languages. Many examples will come from Cook Islands Māori or New Zealand Māori.

Assumed knowledge

No special knowledge will be assumed.

Background knowledge

No background knowledge is assumed but some content will include some linguistics terminology and ideas.


Keep an eye on this site:


Topics covered include:

  • What is Polynesia and who are the Polynesian people?
  • The language family and its subgroups
  • Some interesting linguistic features of Polynesian languages
  • The current state of some key languages.
  • Some examples of Polynesian science, arts and literature

Sally Akevai Williams on fieldworkTamariki (children) from Ma’uke school working on their superhero cartoons, 2017.

[Main image: Story board elicitation with Mama Tiria in Ma’uke, 2017]

  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University