As an ethnic/racial term, it is used to describe the original peoples—inhabitants and diaspora—of any of the three major subregions of Oceania (Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia). It is also sometimes used as a general geographic term, describing any inhabitants of the Pacific islands (i.e., including citizens of Pacific states/territories who are of Asian or European descent and who call the Pacific their home). As "Pacific Islander" can be understood to denote both indigenous and non-indigenous peoples of the Pacific Islands, as well as excluding Aboriginal Australians, the term is distinct from referring to the indigenous peoples of Oceania.
Micronesians include the Carolinians (Northern Mariana Islands), Chamorros (Guam), Chuukese (Chuuk), I-Kiribati (Kiribati), Kosraeans (Kosrae), Marshallese (Marshall Islands), Palauans (Palau), Pohnpeians (Pohnpei), and Yapese (Yap).
Polynesians include the Māori (New Zealand), Native Hawaiians (Hawaii), Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Samoans (Samoa and American Samoa), Tahitians (Tahiti), Tokelauans (Tokelau), Niueans (Niue), Cook Islands Māori (Cook Islands) and Tongans (Tonga).
Auckland, New Zealand has the world's largest concentration of urban Pacific Islanders living outside of their own countries, and is sometimes referred to as the "Polynesian capital of the world." This came as result of how, during the 20th century and into the 21st century, the country saw a steady stream of immigration from Polynesian countries such as Samoa, Tonga, the Cook Islands, Niue, and French Polynesia.