Cultures in Oceania reflect the native people peoples of Oceania. The four groups are Australian Aboriginals, Polynesians, Melanesians, and Micronesians. Each group and culture is distinct, but with some interaction and blending of ideas. There has also been an Asian influence in the region's history, particularly the further north you travel. However, European migration has had the biggest impact of all on Oceanic cultures. Read more →
Australia and New Zealand (Australasia) which is the bulk of Oceania has a predominate western culture. This gives Oceania a unique blend of smaller and older cultures existing alongside a modern western culture similar to that of North America and Western Europe.
Among Australian Aboriginals is a large number of tribal divisions and language groups due to vast distances. Aboriginal art is the most internationally recognizable form of Australian art. In music, the didgeridoo is commonly considered the national instrument of Australian Aborigines, and it is claimed to be the world's oldest wind instrument.
Polynesians were tribal societies with a history of war. They were known for their navigation skills and boats (waka) are still important today. Music and dance is unique. Famous dances include the Haka from the New Zealand Maori and the Hula performed by Hawaiian dancers. Tattoos are an important expression in Polynesian cultures.
Melanesian languages belong to the Austronesian group. Customs include kava drinking and tattooing. Melanesians used the bow and arrow for hunting which was almost non-existent in Polynesia. Head-hunting was common in some Melanesian groups.
Micronesians have a rich oral history and a unique musical heritage. Micronesian societies are made up of clan groupings, with descent usually traced through the mother. The head clan on each island can trace its lineage back to the island's original settlers. Before the arrival of paper currency, most Micronesians traded with beads, shells and clams.