Throughout the nineteenth century there were many, including scholars, who believed that the peoples of Polynesia were doomed to extinction. The reasons suggested for the supposedly dramatic declines in population numbers were many and varied, but few authors questioned the reality of the declines or their universality. In this book a demographer reappraises the basic estimates and counts of some of these populations, setting them in the context of contemporary knowledge and events, in an attempt to trace the demographic fortunes of these island populations in the years before 1956, the year in which censuses were taken simultaneously and more or less uniformly for all but one of these island groups. The book contains much new and hitherto unpublished material, gleaned from such diverse sources as the letters and journals of missionaries in the nineteenth century and contemporary registers of births and deaths. Not only is it an important work of reference for all scholars concerned with these island populations but it is of value to anyone interested in the history or future development of these islands.