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What Is The Difference Between Samoan, Maori, And Hawaiian? (Discussed)

What Is The Difference Between Samoan, Maori, And Hawaiian? (Discussed)

Māori, Samoan, and Hawaiian look similar due to their common cultural heritage. They share the same culture, traditions, and beliefs, however, they don’t speak the same language and have certain characteristics that distinguish them from one another.

Samoan, Hawaiian, and Māori are all Polynesians. They all belong to different islands of Polynesia. Samoans are the natives of Samoa, Māori are the ancient inhabitants of New Zealand, and Hawaiians are the initial inhabitants of Hawaii.

Hawaii is located on the northern side of Polynesia whereas New Zealand is on the Southwestern side. However, Samoa is in the West of Polynesia. Therefore, their languages slightly differ from each other. The Hawaiian language has similarities with both Samoan and Maori languages. However, both these languages i.e. Samoan and Maori are quite different from each other.

Read on to explore more differences.

Who Are Polynesians?

Polynesians are a group of people who are natives of Polynesia (the islands of Polynesia), a vast area of Oceania in the Pacific Ocean. They speak Polynesian languages, which are part of the Austronesian language’s family of Oceanic subfamily.

Polynesians spread through Melanesia quickly, allowing only limited mixing between Austronesian and Papuans, according to the study.

Things You Need To Know About Polynesian Languages

Polynesian languages are a group of roughly 30 languages that belong to an Austronesian language family’s Eastern, or Oceanic branch, and are most closely linked to the languages of Melanesia and Micronesia.

The Polynesian languages, which are spoken by less than 1,000,000 people across a huge portion of the Pacific Ocean, are very much alike, showing that they have just scattered within the last 2,500 years out of an originating center in the Tonga-Samoa area.

Most experts agree that there are roughly thirty Polynesian languages. None is spoken by more than 500,000 people, and only around half are used by a thousand or fewer individuals. Maori, Tongan, Samoan, and Tahitian are the languages having the most native speakers.

Despite growing competition from French and English, many Polynesian languages are not in danger of going extinct. Even though there was significant attrition among native speakers of Māori and Hawaiian in the nineteenth century, these languages are still used by many people around the globe.

Do You Know?

The Polynesian name of Easter Island i.e. Pito in Te Pito-o-te-Henua has been interpreted as ‘the center of the earth,’ however it refers to the umbilical cord, not the navel, and the Pito in Polynesian language is figuratively the ‘extremity,’ not the ‘center.’

Carved buildings were used as ritual centers
Carved Buildings were used as ritual centers

Who are Samoans?

People who belong to Samoa are known as Samoans. Samoans are Polynesians who are linked to the indigenous people of French Polynesia, New Zealand, Hawaii, and Tonga.

Samoa is a group of islands in Polynesia about 1,600 miles (2,600 kilometers) northeast of New Zealand inside the south-central Pacific Ocean. The 6 islands at the eastern longitude 171° W make up American Samoa, including Tutuila(a US dependency).

Samoa is made up of nine inhabited and 5 unoccupied islands west of the meridian and has been an autonomous nation since 1962. Despite American Samoa’s concerns, the country was renamed simply Samoa in 1997, which was known as Western Samoa before.

Polynesians (most likely from Tonga) arrived on the Samoan islands around 1000 years ago. According to several experts, Samoa became the ancestral homeland for voyagers who inhabited a large portion of eastern Polynesia around 500 CE.

The Samoan style of life, known as Fa’a Samoa, is based on communal living. The extended family is the most basic unit of the social setup. (it is known as Aiga in the Samoan language).

Despite years of foreign intervention, most Samoans speak the Samoan language ( Gagana Samoa) fluently. However, the majority of American Samoans speak English.

About half of the population is affiliated with one of several Protestant faiths, the largest of which is the Congregational Christian Church.

Who Are Maoris?

The indigenous individuals of New Zealand are referred to as Māori. These individuals are supposed to have migrated to New Zealand over a thousand years ago and are a blend of several Polynesian civilizations.

Maori tattoo is well-known for their unusual full-body and face designs. They have a one-of-a-kind status as indigenous people with complete legal rights around the world. Many Māori cultural rituals are still practiced today in New Zealand.

Oratory in Māori, music, and formal receptions of guests, followed by the hongi,(a traditional way to welcome guests by rubbing their noses with each other), and cooking of meals in earth ovens (hangi), on heated stones, are some of the rituals still in use.

All these customs are part of the Māori gatherings. Carved buildings that serve as meeting places, and ritual centers in Maori villages are still being built.

Ancient inhabitants of Hawaii are known as Native Hawaiians
Ancient inhabitants of Hawaii are known as Native Hawaiians

Who Are Hawaiians?

The indigenous Polynesian residents of the Hawaiian Islands are known as the Native Hawaiians, or simply Hawaiians. Hawaii was founded around 800 years ago with the arrival of Polynesians, supposedly from the Society Islands. 

The immigrants gradually became estranged from their native nation, forming a separate Hawaiian culture and identity. This involved the construction of cultural and religious centers, which were needed for the changed living conditions and were a necessity for an organized belief system.

As a result, Hawaiian religion emphasizes methods to exist and connect to natural surroundings, instilling a feeling of communal existence and specialized spatial awareness. Their houses had wooden frames and thatched roofs, and stone floors that were covered with mats.

Food was prepared in Imus, or holes in the soil, with hot stones; however, numerous food items, especially fish, were sometimes consumed uncooked.

Women were not allowed to eat good food. Men wore simply a girdle or a malo, and women a tapa, or paper’s cloth, and fiber skirt made of leaves, while both wore mantles draped over the shoulders on occasions. Native Hawaiians continue to struggle for self-government.

Do They Communicate In A Similar Language?

No, they do not speak the same language. Samoan (Gagana Samoa) is more similar to Hawaii (Hawaiian language) than Māori (New Zealand Maori language), yet Hawaii is also similar to Māori.

It is because Polynesians frequently migrated from one island to another. Māori and Hawaii (‘Ōlelo Hawai’i,) are Eastern Polynesia languages with significant similarities. For example, the Hawaiian word “Aloha” which means “hello” or “goodbye” becomes “Aroha” in Maori, because the letter “l” is not included in their alphabets. However, hello in Samoan is “Talofa”.

Native speakers are the people who can understand Māori and Hawaii the best.

Is There A Difference Between Maori And Samoan?

The Maoris are also Polynesians. They have traditions that link to Savaii, formally Savaiki, the biggest island of the Samoan region, as their homeland.

All Polynesians don’t speak the same language now, but they did in the past. Even though they are people from different cultures, they have so much in common.

Te Reo Māori, the language of New Zealand’s earliest migrant group, is one of the country’s official languages.

Samoan and Maori are the two languages commonly spoken by children in Aotearoa/New Zealand, after English. The survival of both of these Polynesian languages is dependent on their being passed on to future generations.

Is There A Difference Between Samoan And Hawaiian?

Hawaiians, often known as native Hawaiians, are Pacific Americans who trace their heritage directly to the Hawaiian Islands (people of the state are called Hawaii residents).

Samoans are individuals from Samoa, a country southwest of the Hawaiian Islands. Samoan people live in American Samoa. It is an unpopulated territory of the United States near Samoa but on the other edge of the Date Line.

Both Samoan and Hawaiian are mutually intelligible, however, Cook Island Maori does have the additional advantage of becoming intelligible with ‘Ōlelo Hawai’i, Tahitian, and Rapan languages.

Can Hawaiians And Maoris Communicate Effectively?

Both languages are pretty close, but they are not similar to each other. However, they can understand each other and communicate effectively.

Tattoos or Tā moko in Maori culture were considered sacred
Tattoos or Tā moko in Maori culture were considered sacred

Is Maori a country?

 No Maori isn’t a country. The majority of Maori people live in New Zealand. Over 98% of them. They belong there as the Indigenous people of New Zealand.

Is Hawaii Considered Polynesian?

Hawaii is the northernmost island group in Polynesia and is, therefore, a true Polynesian. It encompasses nearly the entire volcanic Hawaiian archipelago, which spans 1,500 miles throughout the central Pacific Ocean and is made up of various islands.

Is Samoan A Polynesian Language?

Samoan is indeed a Polynesian language being spoken by Samoans on the islands of Samoa. The islands are divided administratively between the sovereign republic of Samoa and the US entity of American Samoa.

Which Of The Three Languages Would Be The Most Useful?

When a few parameters are taken into account, Samoan is the most useful language among the three languages. To begin with, the Polynesian language has by far the greatest number of speakers worldwide. There are over 500,000 speakers.

Most countries have Samoans than Maori or Hawaiian people. In New Zealand, for example, it must be the third or fourth most commonly spoken language.

Maori speakers make up roughly “only” 2 times the number of Samoan speakers in New Zealand. Secondly, Gagana Samoa is one of the only three languages that is linked to an autonomous Polynesian nation.

The video further reveals the little known facts about Maori and Hawaiians


There are differences in languages and cultures between Samoans, Maori, and Hawaiians. Although all these languages are Polynesian languages, they are different from each other.

Polynesians include Samoans, Maori, and Native Hawaiians. Despite their characteristics, they all relate to the same broader family in terms of genetics, languages, culture, and ancient beliefs. Samoans are the ancient inhabitants of Samoa, Native Hawaiians are the ancient inhabitants of Hawaii, and Maori are the earliest inhabitants of New Zealand.

Among the three languages, I would select the Samoan language. Non-Polynesian speakers find Polynesian languages difficult to acquire, and it takes a long time. Polynesian languages aren’t as helpful as Asian and European languages in terms of international worth.

Other than English, Maori and Samoan has the greatest number of speakers, with both of these different languages being most frequently spoken in New Zealand.

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