Selected Teachings on
Encyclopedia of Mormonism
A basic view held in the Church is that Polynesians have ancestral connections with the Book of Mormon people who were descendants of Abraham and that among them are heirs to the blessings promised Abraham's descendants.... Since 1843, the Church has undertaken extensive missionary efforts in the Pacific islands, and large numbers of Polynesians have joined the Church.
The belief that Polynesian ancestry includes Book of Mormon people can be traced back at least to 1851, when George Q. Cannon taught it as a missionary in Hawaii (he was later a counselor in the First Presidency). President Brigham Young detailed the belief in a letter to King Kamehameha V in 1865. Other Church leaders have since affirmed the belief, some indicating that among Polynesian ancestors were the people of Hagoth, who set sail from Nephite lands in approximately 54 B.C. (cf. Alma 63:5-8). In a statement to the Maoris of New Zealand, for instance, President Joseph F. Smith said, "I would like to say to you brethren and sisters…you are some of Hagoth's people, and there is NO PERHAPS about it!" (Cole and Jensen, p. 388.) In the prayer offered at the dedication of the Hawaii Temple, President Heber J. Grant referred to the "descendants of Lehi" in Hawaii (Improvement Era, 23 [Feb. 1920]:283).
(Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1-4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow (New York: Macmillan, 1992), p.1111)
Spencer W. Kimball (President)
I thought to read to you a sacred scripture which pertains especially to you, the islanders of the Pacific. It is in the sixty-third chapter of Alma. [He reads Alma 63:4, 7-10.] And so it seems to me rather clear that your ancestors moved northward and crossed a part of the South Pacific. You did not bring your records with you, but you brought much food and provisions. And so we have a great congregation of people in the South Seas who came from the Nephites, and who came from the land southward and went to the land northward, which could have been Hawaii. And then the further settlement could have been a move southward again to all of these islands and even to New Zealand. The Lord knows what he is doing when he sends his people from one place to another. That was the scattering of Israel. Some of them remained in America and went from Alaska to the southern point. And others of you came this direction. (Samoa Area Conference Report, February 1976, p. 15)
It is reasonable to conclude that Hagoth and his associates were about nineteen centuries on the islands, from about 55 B.C. to 1854 before the gospel began to reach them. They had lost all the plain and precious things which the Savior brought to the earth, for they were likely on the islands when the Christ was born in Jerusalem. (Temple View Area Conference Report, February 1976, 3; quoted in Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, 329)
Joseph F. Smith (President)
You brothers and sisters from New Zealand, I want you to know that you are from the people of Hagoth. (Temple View Area Conference Report, February 1976, p. 3)
David O. McKay (President)
[In the dedicatory prayer for the Hamilton New Zealand Temple, President David O. McKay said] We express gratitude that to these fertile Islands Thou didst guide descendants of Father Lehi, and hast enabled them to prosper. (“Dedicatory Prayer Delivered by Pres. McKay at New Zealand Temple,” Church News, May 10, 1958, 2)