Polynesian Leaders Group
Logo of the Polynesian Leaders Group
Location of the Polynesian Leaders Group
Seatby rotation
• Chairman
Samoa Afega Gaulofa

The Polynesian Leaders Group (PLG) is an international governmental cooperation group bringing together four independent countries and eight self-governing territories in Polynesia.

The idea of a Polynesian regional grouping had been discussed for several years, notably in response to the Melanesian Spearhead Group, a regional grouping for countries in Melanesia. In September 2011, Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi initiated a meeting with the leaders of Tonga, Tuvalu, the Cook Islands and Niue on the margins of the Pacific Islands Forum summit in Auckland. These initial talks led to a second meeting in Apia which, on 17 November, led to a memorandum of understanding formally establishing the Polynesian Leaders Group (PLG).[1][2]

The Group does not have a fixed Secretariat at present, despite initial suggestions that one would be established in Apia.[1][2][3] The Group held its first formal meeting in Rarotonga in the Cook Islands in August 2012.[4]


The idea of a 'Polynesian Alliance' in order to address social and economic issues within the Pacific has been discussed since the between the 1870s and 1890s when King Kamehameha V of Hawaii, King Pomare V of Tahiti, King Malietoa Laupepa of Samoa and King George Tupou II of Tonga agreed to establish a confederation of Polynesian states, of which did not eventuate.[5]

The idea once again arose in the 1970s with the Kingitanga of New Zealand, an its leader Te Atairangikaahu, reviving the idea of an alliance similar to, but separate from, the Pacific Islands Forum. Fiji and Samoa were also parties to these discussions.[5]


Memorandum of Understanding
Announcing the launch, Prime Minister Tuilaepa said the member countries would work together "through this group to seek a future for our Polynesian people and countries where cultures, traditions and values are honored and protected. Where sustainable economic prosperity is achieved, where democratic values are observed, human rights promoted and protected as well as upholding the rule of law." It was also announced that the countries would cooperate in the fields of "education, culture and language, transport, environmental conservation and climate change mitigation and adaptation, health, agriculture and fisheries, tourism, trade and investment".[3]

The fourth section of the Memorandum of Understanding read; The meeting decided that through the PLG, members will work together in the spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation to: Encourage sharing knowledge and experiences in awareness and education to promote and protect cultures, traditions and languages; Encourage mutual support of development efforts in areas including but not limited to: transport, energy, environmental conservation, climate change, education, health, agriculture and fisheries, tourism, trade and investment; Encourage respect for the quality of governance, observance of democratic values and human rights rule of law and right to self-determination; Encourage the strengthening of connections with institutions of regional and international cooperation.[6]

Overseas workers
In 2013, the PLG ended their annual meeting with an announcement pushing New Zealand and Australia to increase its seasonal workers quotas in order for more Pacific peoples to gain seasonal work in these countries.[7]


There are eight founding members: three sovereign states (Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu), two self-governing states in free association with New Zealand (the Cook Islands and Niue), an unincorporated territory of the United States (American Samoa), an overseas country of France (French Polynesia), and a nation that is also a dependency of New Zealand (Tokelau).[8]


In September 2017, the Group added the French overseas collectivity of Wallis and Futuna as a member.[9] Wallis and Futuna would be the first new member since the Group was founded in 2011.

In June 2018, the Group voted to add three members: the sovereign state of New Zealand, the U.S. state of Hawaii, and the Chilean territory of Easter Island (Rapa Nui).[10][11] As far back as September 2011, Niuean Premier Toke Talagi had noted that "we consider New Zealand and Hawaii, for example, as being part of the Polynesian Triangle so they could very well be part of the members of this Polynesian Group". Tuilaeapa, while also acknowledging that New Zealand was geographically part of Polynesia, said there might be "complications" to inviting New Zealand into the Group.[1][2][3]

When the new members were formally announced, the Group's then-chairman, Enele Sopoaga, prime minister of Tuvalu, said, "we welcome other Polynesian communities in other places and locations to join the PLG as brothers," and emphasized the need for Polynesian communities to come together to address common problems.[11] Commentators also noted that the addition of New Zealand and Hawaii could bring additional resources to the Group and increase the potential for strategic cooperation with the United States.[10] Further, the addition of Easter Island raised questions about the relationship between the Group's interest in decolonization and Easter Island's political status within Chile.[10]

Potential membership for Fiji

In November 2011, Tuilaeapa stated it had been "decided that a state, territory or an indigenous Polynesian population can be invited to become a member or as an observer by a consensus decision of the founding members".[1][2][3] A few days later, discussing the founding of the Group with Radio Australia, Tuilaeapa said that Fiji could be welcomed as a member in future. Despite Fiji being usually considered a Melanesian country just outside the Polynesian Triangle, albeit with a culture and political traditions influenced by Polynesia, Tuilaepa argued that "Fiji is within this triangle and its founding leaders considered themselves as Polynesians. Obviously, the current leadership is leaning towards our Melanesian brothers."[12]

Founding Leaders

Country Head of Government Status governing
 American Samoa Governor Togiola Tulafono observer member
 Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna self-governing
 French Polynesia President Oscar Temaru observer member
 Niue Premier Toke Talagi self-governing
 Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi sovereign state
 Tokelau Ulu Foua Toloa[13] observer member
 Tonga Prime Minister Lord Tuʻivakano sovereign state
 Tuvalu Prime Minister Willy Telavi sovereign state


PLG Annual Meetings
No Date Location Host Host leader Notes
1st 17 November 2011 Apia  Samoa Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi [14]
2nd August 2012 Rarotonga  Cook Islands Henry Puna
3rd 30 August 2013 Auckland  French Polynesia Gaston Flosse [8]
4th 26 July 2014 Auckland  Niue Toke Talagi [15]
5th 5 September 2015 Auckland  Tokelau Aliki Faipule Siopili Perez [16]
6th 29 June 2016 Papeete  French Polynesia Édouard Fritch [17]
7th 4 September 2017 Apia  Samoa Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi [18]
8th 28 June 2018 Tuvalu  Tuvalu Enele Sosene Sopoaga [19]
9th August 2019 Tuvalu  Tuvalu 50th Pacific Islands Forum & Related Meetings
10th 29 January 2021 Virtual meeting  American Samoa Lemanu Peleti Mauga "Building Resilience in Times of Uncertainty"[20][21][22]



# Name Country/State Term Office Notes
1 Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi  Samoa 2011-2012
2 Henry Puna  Cook Islands 2012-2013 [8]
3 Gaston Flosse  French Polynesia 2013-2014 [8]
4 Toke Talagi  Niue 2014-2015
6 Aliki Faipule Afega Gaualofa  Tokelau 2015-2023 [23]
7 Moetai Brotherson  French Polynesia 2023–présent

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Andrews, John (19 September 2011). "NZ may be invited to join proposed 'Polynesian Triangle' ginger group". Scoop News. Pacific Scoop News. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d "New Polynesian Leaders Group formed in Samoa". Radio New Zealand. 19 November 2011. Retrieved 20 November 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d "American Samoa joins Polynesian Leaders Group, MOU signed". Samoa News. Savalii. 20 November 2011. Retrieved 30 July 2020.
  4. ^ "Polynesian Leaders Group meet in Rarotonga ahead of the Pacific Leaders Forum", Islands Business, 27 August 2012
  5. ^ a b Iati, Iati (22 March 2017). "Pacific Regionalism and the Polynesian Leaders Group". The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs. 106 (2): 175–185. doi:10.1080/00358533.2017.1296706. S2CID 157681036.
  6. ^ Ilialo, Marieta Heidi (21 November 2011). "POLYNESIAN LEADERS GROUP FORMED IN SAMOA". Pacific Island Report. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  7. ^ "Polynesian leaders want to push for higher seasonal worker quotas". Radio New Zealand. 2 September 2013. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  8. ^ a b c d "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 May 2016. Retrieved 22 April 2016.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "Wallis and Futuna join Polynesia Leaders Group". RNZ. 4 September 2017. Retrieved 4 April 2023.
  10. ^ a b c Wyeth, Grant. "Polynesian Triangulation: Polynesian Leaders' Group Expands". thediplomat.com. Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  11. ^ a b "NZ, Hawaii and Rapa Nui admitted to Polynesian Leaders Group". www.samoanews.com. 30 June 2018. Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  12. ^ "Fiji welcome in Polynesian bloc: Samoa", Radio Australia, 22 November 2011
  13. ^ "Polynesian Union finally realized 35 years after". Talamua. 18 November 2011. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  14. ^ "POLYNESIAN LEADERS GROUP FORMED IN SAMOA - November 21, 2011". Pacific Islands Report. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  15. ^ Administrator. "Prime Minister of Tonga attends 4th Meeting of the Polynesian Leaders Group". www.mic.gov.to. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  16. ^ "Smallest Pacific territory, Tokelau elected to lead 'Polynesian Leaders Group'". Pacific Guardian. 9 July 2015. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  17. ^ "Polynesian leaders group gathers in Tahiti for climate change update". Asia Pacific Report. 29 June 2016. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
  18. ^ "Governor to attend Polynesian Leaders Group". Talanei News. 21 August 2017. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  19. ^ "NZ, Hawaii and Rapa Nui admitted to Polynesian Leaders Group". Radio NZ. 29 June 2018. Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  20. ^ "Polynesian Leaders Group in virtual meet". Samoa Observer. 27 January 2021. Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  21. ^ "American Samoa completes the first virtual Polynesian Leaders Group meeting". Samoa news. 6 February 2021. Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  22. ^ "PM to assume Polynesian Leaders Group chair role". Cook Islands NEWS. 1 February 2021. Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  23. ^ "Tokelau elected to lead Polynesia Leaders Group". www.tokelau.org.nz. Retrieved 4 May 2016.