Pacific Islander baby names come from a diverse group of nations from the Pacific Ocean referred to as the Polynesian Triangle. This area has New Zealand at one corner, the Easter Islands at the second, and the Hawaiian Islands at the third.
The indigenous Polynesian people share a considerable amount of cultural, social, and linguistic heritage. However, at the same time, each island, group of islands, nation, territory, or state are distinct societies in their own right.
We’ve compiled 25 Samoan girls’ names, 25 Samoan boys’ names, and 25 names for each gender from the wider Polynesian Triangle, so you don’t have to dig in and do the research.
25 Samoan Girl Names
These female Samoan names offer some great possibilities for your baby girl.
Amataga means beginning in Samoan.
Gatoloaifaana Amataga Alesana-Gidlow is a Samoan politician and matai. A matai is the holder of a family’s chief title and plays a central role in Faʻamatai, the traditional Samoan governance system, central to Samoan society.
Atamai is a name from Samoa that means clever.
Atamai village is close to Motueka on New Zealand’s south island. This eco-village was founded in 2006 as a sustainable community for up to 50 families.
Elisapeta is the Samoan form of Elizabeth.
Elisapeta Heta is a leading architect who combines her cultural heritage with her architectural training to create buildings symbiotic with the environment in which they are built.
The Samoan name Fiafia means be happy.
If you’re looking for a traditional Samoan name that will bestow positive vibes on your child, the beautiful, lyrical Fiafia is ideal.
Filemu means peacefulness.
Filemu is a gender-neutral Samoan name and you will also see it used as a family name. While it is listed as meaning peacefulness, a direct translation is be quiet.
Fiva is Samoan for fever.
Fiva is an archaic Samoan name, but it is also a Medieval Russian girls’ name. During the Middle Ages, Fiva was the Russian form of Thebe.
Kenese is the Samoan form of Genesis.
Genesis is rising in the popularity charts in the U.S., where it was ranked number 57 for girls and number 909 for boys in 2019. Using the Samoan form could give a distinctive twist to this increasingly popular name.
Lagi means heaven in Samoan.
Lagi is a New Zealand-based company run by first-generation Samaons born in the country. They design and produce cloth, clothes, and other products for urban residents, using traditional Pacific art, crafts, and techniques.
Loimata is Samoan for tears.
Loimata: The Sweetest Tears tells the story of Lilo Ema Siope, an incredible woman who built ocean-going waka and captained them around the Pacific. In the film, she has terminal cancer and takes her family back to Samoa.
The Samoan girls’ name Luni means June.
Luni is a pretty Samoan name in its own right, but it is especially appropriate for a baby born in the month of June.
Lupelele means flying dove.
This translation of Lupelele uses a little poetic license. The direct translation comes from the Samoan Lupe, which is a dove-like bird but can also be translated as pigeon, and lele, which means fly.
Lupesina comes from the Samoan words for dove and silver.
The Lupe Sina Treehouse Resort on the island of Upolu features luxury treehouses, traditional Samoan cuisine, and views across the ocean.
Manaia means nice in Samoan.
In Māori culture, the Manaia is a mythological creature, often featured in traditional carving, jewelry, and art. The Manaia is believed to be a messenger between the spirit world and humanity.
Manamea means sweetheart in Samoan.
The Manamea Art Studio blends the traditional Samoan art forms of tattooing, carving, and cloth printing with Western figurative and abstract painting and modern forms of carving.
Mataalii is the Samoan form of the Māori name Matariki.
Mataalii and Matariki are the Samoan and Māori names for the constellation known in English-speaking countries as the Pleiades.
Nuanua is Samoan for rainbow.
While Nuanua means rainbow, nua alone means new. We think this combination is especially appropriate for a beautiful rainbow baby.
Olaga means life in Samoan.
The spelling of this gender-neutral Samoan name is very close to that of the Russian girls’ name Olga. Consequently, you may be giving your child a lifetime of correcting people who misread their name.
Olioli is Samoan for joy.
The name Joy was reasonably popular in the U.S. for much of the 20th century. Therefore, Olioli could be a good way to honor a parent or grandparent named Joy.
Onosaʻi means patience, be patient.
If you have waited a long time for a child, or they have taken their time being born, then Onosaʻi might be an appropriate name for them.
The Samoan girls’ name Penina means pearl.
Penina Davidson is a professional basketball player who plays for the New Zealand national team and the Melbourne Boomers. During her time at the University of California, Berkeley, Davidson played for the Golden Bears in the NCAA Division.
21. Rongomai Whenua
Rongomai Whenua means earth mother.
The indigenous people of Rekohu are the Morimori. The Morimori are descended from Rongomaiwhenua, but the population was decimated first by Europeans, then by Māori invaders and slavers.
Salamasina is of unknown meaning.
Queen Salamasina held four aristocratic titles, which gave her the title of Tafa‘ifā, which means one supported by four. She is still held in high regard by modern Samoans.
The literal translation of Saofa’i is sit down.
Many sites list Saofa’i as being a Samoan form of Sophia. However, Saofa’i is a solemn traditional ceremony in which a new matai is accepted into the chiefs.
In Samoan, sina means white or gray-haired.
The Samoan legend of Sina and the eel tells the origin story of the coconut tree. The tree is the eel, planted by Sina, and the three dimples on the coconut are the eel’s face.
Teuila is the Samoan name for a flower called red ginger in English.
The deep, vibrant red Teuila is the national flower of Samoa. Pronounced te-oo-wee-lah, this is a great name for your petite redhead.
25 Samoan Boy Names
If you’re expecting a boy, here are some cool and traditional Samoan names to check out.
Aleki is a form of Alexander.
Used in Samoa, New Zealand, and Tongo, Aleki would be the ideal Samoan boys’ name if, by family tradition, you were expected to name your child Alexander.
Alofa is a Samoan name meaning love.
A gender-neutral name, some people feel Alofa’s more feminine. If you’re in doubt, check out international rugby union star Alofa Alofa. Born in New Zealand and raised in Australia, he plays for Samoa by virtue of his Samoan-born parents.
No meaning of Artorian is available.
A strong, enigmatic sounding name, Artorian is the main character in Artorian’s Archives, a subsection of the Divine Dungeon book series by Dennis Vanderkerken.
We could not find a reliable meaning for Enele.
Enele Sopoaga was the Prime Minister of Tuvalu from 2013 until 2019. Sopoaga made a commitment under the Majuro Convention to generate all energy used on Tuvalu from renewable sources by 2020.
The literal translation of Fetu is star.
The Samoan boys’ name Fetu can be both a stand-alone name or a nickname for Fetuilelagi, which means heavenly stars. Fetu is the Samoan god of the night.
Haych is a Samoan nickname.
While this is commonly used as a nickname in Samoa, it is an excellent contender for promotion to forename status.
Hemi is the Samoan form of James.
Not only is Hemi an excellent alternative to the traditional boys’ name James, but it might also be a good fit for motorheads.
Iakopo is a form of Jacob used in Samoa.
Recording artist Iakopo was born into a Mormon family in Southern California. Aged 14, he was sent to Samoa to correct his behavior. His first U.S. single features Shaggy.
Iosefa is the Samoan form of Joseph.
A fabulous alternative to Joseph, and other J name variations, Iosefa is sometimes shortened to Sefa, which we think is way better than plain old Joe.
Keola means life, health.
Keola is the ideal Samoan boys’ name for those parents seeking a positive, upbeat meaning that’s not too new-age or flowery.
Laki translates to English as Lucky.
The Craters of Laki in Iceland are volcanic fissures. An eruption between June 1783 and February 1784 emitted sulfur dioxide, causing deaths in Europe and a long cold winter in North America. It also delayed voting on the Treaty of Paris.
Maleko is the form of Mark used in Samoa, and it means male.
This name evolved from the Roman god of war, Mars. If you expect your boy to show some warrior-like tendencies, Maleko might be a good fit.
Malosi means strength.
Former University of Arizona WR Malosi Leonard joined the family business after leaving college. The son of stunt performers, Leonard has appeared in movies as diverse as Fast & Furious, Iron Man, and Due Date.
The Samoan word noa means just.
Noa can also be considered a version of Noah, which means repose, rest. The only downside we can see to this name is that other people are bound to spell it Noah, which could prove frustrating.
Puleleiite translates to management.
While not the most appealing literal translation, a fuller, more accurate meaning for Puleleiite would be the ruler who can tell the future.
Semis is a form of James used in Samoa.
For families of mixed heritage, choosing a name can be difficult. Names such as Semis will allow a Samoan parent to acknowledge their culture while a parent of non-Samoan culture can acknowledge theirs.
Siaosi is a form of George, used in Samoa.
The music of performer Siaosi is a mixture of the R&B, reggae, and lovers rock he grew up with mixed with Polynesian-inspired harmonies.
Sione is a form of John often used in Samoa.
Sione Molia is a Rugby Union Sevens player from New Zealand who has played for the national team, the All Blacks Sevens.
Tala is Samoan for story.
The currency of the Independent State of Samoa is the Samoan Tala. The Tala is broken down into 100 sene.
Taito is a form of Titus used in Samoa.
Taito is an interesting Samoan boys’ name option which is also an entirely separate name from Finland, meaning skill, knowledge.
The literal translation of Tuala is towels.
Politician and diplomat Tuala Falani Chan Tung has served as the Samoan Ambassador to Belgium, a government cabinet minister, and is currently a director of the Central Bank of Samoa.
Tusitala means teller of tales or, literally, write stories.
The writer Robert Louis Stevenson became known by the name Tusitala after he and his family settled in the village of Vailima on the island of Upolu.
Uati means to watch.
Samoan weightlifter Uati Maposua, represented his country at the Olympics. Competing in the Men’s Middleweight class, Maposua was also chosen as the Samoan Olympic team’s flag bearer.
The meaning of Vaea is unknown, but it may mean king, chief.
The Samoan legend of Mount Vaea tells of the huge man Vaea. Upon seeing the death of his firstborn son, he was so grief-stricken, he became a mountain, never moving again.
Vasa means ocean, sea.
This short and snappy boys’ name from Samoa has a traditional name pedigree with a modern-day relaxed vibe we love.
25 Polynesian Girl Names
If you like Polynesian names that give off a Tahiti or island vibe, here are some to consider.
Anahera is a Maori name meaning angel.
Anahera is a suitable alternative to the overused English language name Angel. In New Zealand, Anahera has featured in the top 100 girls’ names charts with a total of 140 girls receiving this name since 2006.
Apikalia means my father’s joy.
Apikalia is a form of Abigail used in Hawaii and on some of the other Polynesian islands. The name is sometimes shortened to the nickname Kalia.
The Maori name Aroha means love.
Just as many European languages have similar-sounding words with the same meaning, so do many Polynesian cultures. Hence, Aroha may be confused with the better-known Hawaiian word aloha.
Haukea is from the Hawaiian words for snow and white.
If you enjoy traditional European fairy tales or classic Disney movies, but Snow White is too much of an out-there name, Haukea is a suitable alternative.
Heirani means crown, garland, heaven, sky.
Heirani is a Paumotu name, from the islands now known as the Tuamotu Archipelago. This chain of islands and atolls is the largest group of atolls on the planet.
The Hawaiian name Iolana means to soar.
Depending on who you ask, this gorgeous Hawaiian name is pronounced as either ee-o-LA-na, yaw-lah-nah, or yo-LAR-na. This variety of pronunciations may cause confusion.
Kahurangi means precious or blue.
Kahurangi is a gender-neutral Maori name and a type of gemstone found in New Zealand. Also known as nephrite jade, or New Zealand jade, Kahurangi is intensely green and highly translucent.
The gender-neutral Hawaiian name Kai means sea.
The Hawaiian girls’ name Kailani means ocean, sea, heaven, sky.
Kailani entered the U.S. top 1,000 girls’ names charts at number 962 in 2013. Since then, it’s been climbing steadily, reaching number 350 in 2019.
The Hawaiian name Kalina means pure.
Kalina is a Hawaiian form of Karen, which itself evolved from Katherine. That makes Kalina a great choice if Karen or Katherine are on your radar, but you also want something a little different.
Keahi is a Hawaiian gender-neutral name meaning the fire.
Keahi is pronounced kay-ah-he with the kai section rhyming with day. Most people who have English as a first language will pronounce this key-a-he or key-a-hi, so be prepared for lots of corrections.
Kiri is a Maori name meaning skin of the tree (bark) or fruit.
Arguably, the most famous Kiri is Dame Kiri Jeanette Claire Te Kanawa. She is an opera singer from New Zealand who sings music from the 17th to the 20th century, in a range of styles.
Lani is a Hawaiian name that means heaven, sky, majesty, royalty.
Lani has seen a few brief spurts of popularity in the U.S. in both the 1940s and 1950s. However, this is likely due to the use of Lani as an alternative to the English girl’s name Elaine rather than the Hawaiian version.
The Hawaiian name Makana means gift.
Makana combines the tropical feel of a Hawaiian name, a beautiful meaning, and a relaxed modern twist that you won’t hear anywhere else.
Marama is the Maori word for light.
In some Polynesian myths, Marama is the goddess of the moon. Each month she becomes sick and her light weakens. After bathing in the Living Water of Tāne, Marama’s light is restored for another month.
The Hawaiian girls’ name Mele means song.
When Mele Tuilotolava graduated in 1982, she became the first person of Pacific Islander heritage to graduate in law from a New Zealand university.
Moerani means sleep and heaven.
The gender-neutral Tahitian name Moerani could be looked upon as a name to avoid because many people will see sleep and heaven as synonymous with death.
The Maori name Ngaio is from a species of tree.
Not only is Ngaio a beautiful Polynesian girls’ name, it also does double duty as an unusual nature name for girls.
Ngaire is a Maori name meaning wetland.
Pronounced Ny-ree, Ngaire is often anglicized with a spelling of Nyree. Why? Because people unfamiliar with the name often think it’s pronounced Nee-gair, which could, understandably, cause issues.
Nikora means victory of the people.
Nikora is a form of Collin, Nils, Nicolas, Nicole, and Nicola that is used predominantly by people of Maori heritage in New Zealand.
Pele is the Hawaiian goddess of fire and volcanoes.
Also known as she who shapes the sacred land and the earth-eating woman, Pele was said to be responsible for creating the Hawaiian islands.
Tiare is a Tahitian girls’ name meaning flower.
Rather than referencing flowers in general, Tiare refers to Gardenia triteness, commonly known as the Tahitian Gardenia or tiaré blossom.
The Tahitian girls’ name Vaihere means water, loved.
Vaihere was created by combining the Tahitian word vai, which means water, and here, which means loved or dear. Perhaps this is a suitable choice for a family who enjoy water sports.
Waimarie means good luck in Maori.
The Paddle Steamer Waimarie is an authentic coal-powered paddle steamer in New Zealand. She had sat at the bottom of the Whanganui River for 50 years before being salvaged and restored.
The Maori name Whetū means star.
Pronounced as feh-too, with an f sound at the beginning, the word whetū can sometimes be used in reference to other celestial bodies such as comets.
25 Polynesian Boy Names
If you’re in the market for a strong-sounding Polynesian boy name, here are our favorites.
The Tahitian name Aimata means in possession of the eldest.
While the definition of Aimata may be a little clunky, the explanation makes it more straightforward. Aimata combines ai, meaning possessing, and mata from matamua, meaning eldest sibling. Consequently, the first-born child of the family was traditionally named Aimata.
The Tahitian boys’ name Aitoarii means royal warrior.
The Tahitian National Football team is called Aito Ariii, splitting this traditional Pacific Islander name into its constituent words.
Akamu is a form of Adam used in the Pacific Islands.
Akamu is also a Nigerian dish made from fermented millet or maze. Cereal is soaked for up to three days, wet milled, then left to ferment for another three days. The sour mix is boiled and served primarily for breakfast.
Aluluei is a name of unknown meaning.
On the Caroline Islands, Aluluei is the god of sailors, and on the Marshall Islands, he is the god of navigation. That makes Aluluei a cool Pacific Islander name for families with naval, sailing, or other sea-faring heritage.
Anaru is the Hawaiian form of Andrew.
Ariihau is a boys’ name from Tahiti, meaning king of the peace.
Tahiti is a semi-autonomous administrative division of France. That means you see Tahitian names crop up more frequently in France than in other countries. Ariihau is an example of a Tahitian name becoming a popular French boys’ name.
Enoha means bird.
The 2018 stop motion movie Enoha tells the story of a boy who lives under the autocratic rule of his family’s landlord, Hiro. Then one day Enoha finds himself hot on the trail of the magical bamboo that Hiro wants.
Eteroa was the original name of the island now known as Rurutu.
The Austral Archipelago in French Polynesia is a chain of seven islands that France annexed in 1900. Eteroa is the traditional Tahitian name for Rurutu, the most northerly island in the chain.
This Tahitian name means pandanus flower or pandanus blossom.
Pandanus trees are second only to the coconut in importance on many Polynesian islands. The male flower is small and fragrant, with the bloom lasting just a single day. They have many names, including Tahitian screwpine and hala tree.
Hōne means God is gracious.
Hōne Heke was a Ngāpuhi chief who signed the Treaty of Waitangi and later opposed British rule over the Maori in New Zealand.
Kaipo is a Pacific Islander name meaning sweetheart.
Actor, director, and producer Kaipo Schwab was born in Hawaii, where he also grew up. Schwab moved to the mainland, graduated from Boston University College of Fine Arts, and now lives in New York.
Kanaloa is the Hawaiian god of the ocean.
Kanaloa’s body is sometimes described as the ocean, while at other times he is said to take on the form of an octopus or squid. As Kanaloa is seen as Kāne’s companion, Kanaloa and Kāne could be suitable twin names.
Kāne is Hawaiian for man.
In Hawaiian mythology, Kāne is the highest of the four gods who are involved in the creation of the universe.
Kaoriki is a name from the Marquesas Islands, meaning little onion.
Kaoriki is another name for the New Zealand Bittern, a species of heron native to the south island but now extinct.
The Hawaiian word kū means standing, upright.
Kū is one of the four major Hawaiian deities. Also known as Kūkaʻilimoku, Kū was the guardian of Kamehameha I, founder and first ruler of Hawaii. Kamehameha I dedicated statues of Kū, only three of which are known to still exist.
Lasa means tame.
In Tonga, Lasa is a popular mythological hero who captures the first elf king. Lasa forces the king to build a great canoe which they sail to Fiji, experiencing multiple challenges on the way.
Lono is the Hawaiian god of agriculture and rain.
In traditional Hawaiian society, a boy ready to enter adulthood might be dedicated to Lono. This marked him as a farmer or someone who would bring abundance by working with Lono.
Maevarau means welcome wishes.
Maevarau is pronounced may-VAR-ew, and this beautiful Tahitian boys’ name is a great choice if you’re looking for a Polynesian name with a poetic meaning.
Makemake means like it or would like.
Pronounced Mahkee-Mahkee, Makemake is a name from Easter Island. A dwarf planet orbiting the sun beyond Neptune was discovered at Easter, nicknamed Easter Bunny, then given the name Makemake.
The meaning of the name Māui is unknown.
Doctor and politician Māui Pōmare was a prominent Maori figure. His work improved Maori health care and living conditions. His contribution is celebrated each year on Te Ra o Māui Pōmare, Māui Pōmare Day.
Nīkau is the Maori name of the tree, Rhopalostylis sapida.
Relatively popular in New Zealand, in the most-used boys’ name charts Nīkau ranked at number 97 in 2015 and number 98 in 2019.
As a Maori word, rangi means heaven, sky.
In Maori mythology, Rangi and Papatūānuku are the sky father and the earth mother, locked in a tight embrace. Their children, who are all lesser gods, are trapped between their bodies until the kids separate their parents to escape.
Taika is a Maori name meaning tiger.
TV and movie writer, director, and producer Taika Waititi is also an accomplished comedian and actor. Among other accolades, Waititi won an Academy Award for his adaptation of Jojo Rabbit and a Grammy for the movie’s compilation soundtrack.
Tāne means man.
Tāne is the Maori god of the forests and the birds. He, along with his siblings, was held tightly between his parents Ranginui and Papatūanuku. The children separated the parents creating the heavens and the Earth.
Temuera means powerful leader.
Actor Temuera Morrison plays Boba Fett in The Mandalorian and sequel, The Book Of Boba Fett. He took on both roles after voicing Fett in the 2004 Star Wars rerelease. Morrison is also the voice of Chief Tui in Moana.
A Diverse Place
There are roughly 25,000 islands in the Pacific, and the region is considered one of the most linguistically complex on the planet. While we group Pacific islands together, the area has an incredible social, cultural, and religious diversity.
This provides a rich variety of choices but as with all cross-cultural use of language, it’s essential to consider their cultural and spiritual importance before using a Pacific Islander name for your baby.