The Polynesians were matrilineal and matrilocal societies upon arrival to Fiji, Tonga and Samoa, after having been through at least some time in the Bismarck Archipelago. The modern Polynesians still show the human genetic results of a Melanesian culture which allowed indigenous men, but not women, to “marry in” – useful evidence for matrilocality.
Although matrilocality and matrilineality receded at some early time Polynesians, and most other Austronesian speakers in the Pacific Islands, were/are still highly “matricentric” in their traditional jurisprudence. The Lapita pottery for which the general archaeological complex of the earliest “Oceanic” Austronesian speakers in the Pacific Islands are named also went away in Western Polynesia and language, social life and material culture were very distinctly “Polynesian” by the time Eastern Polynesia began to be settled after a “pause” of 1000 years or perhaps well more in Western Polynesia.
The dating of the settlement of Eastern Polynesia including Hawai’i, Easter Island, and New Zealand is not agreed upon in every instance. Most recently a 2010 study using meta-analysis of the most reliable radiocarbon dates available suggested that the colonization of Eastern Polynesia (including Hawaii and New Zealand) proceeded in two short episodes: in the Society Islands from 1025–1120 AD and further afield from 1190–1290 AD, with Easter Island being settled around 1200. Other archeological models developed in recent decades, which are challenged by that recent set of radiocarbon dating interpretations, have pointed to dates of between 300 and 500 AD, or alternatively 800 AD (as supported by Jared Diamond) for the settlement of Easter Island, and similarly, a date of 500 AD has been suggested for Hawaii. Linguistically, there is a very distinct “East Polynesian” subgroup with many shared innovations not seen in other Polynesian languages. The Marquesas dialects are perhaps the source of the oldest Hawaiian speech which is overlaid by Tahitian variety speech, as Hawaiian oral histories would suggest. The earliest varieties of New Zealand Maori speech may have had multiple sources from around central Eastern Polynesia as Maori oral histories would suggest.