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What Does NHPI Mean?

Explaining the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) subgroups.

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, or NHPI, refers to people whose ancestors originated in Oceania. Three subgroups make up Oceania: Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia. 

Micronesia includes at least 600 islands such as Palau, Guam, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, the Mariana Islands and Kiribati. Melanesia includes 2,000 islands like Fiji, New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and Australia.

Polynesia refers to the region known as the Polynesian Triangle, with some islands falling outside of the triangle. Polynesia includes over 1,000 islands such as Samoa, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Hawai’i, Tonga, the Cook Islands and French Polynesia. 

The terms “Melanesia,” “Micronesia” and “Polynesia” refer to geographical regions rather than an ethnic group. The term “Native Hawaiian,” or Kanaka Maoli, specifies individuals who are native to Hawai’i (ethnically Hawaiian). Native Hawaiians do not include those who are born or reside in Hawai’i and carry no ancestral ties to the islands.

Tatianna Stazkow was a Healthcare intern for ONC during the Spring 2022 semester. 


Kiste, Robert C. , Fischer, John L. and Kahn, Miriam. "Micronesian culture". Encyclopedia Britannica, 20 Sep. 2017, Accessed 4 February 2022.

"Melanesia." New World Encyclopedia, . 13 Oct 2014, 20:55 UTC. 4 Feb 2022, 14:41 <>.

“Natural Resources Conservation Service.” Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Island Special Emphasis Program | NRCS Vermont, United States Department of Agriculture,


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