Various genetic studies of the Pacific people in combination with earlier archaeological evidence have now clarified much of the confusion. The Melanesian people have a Y chromosome marker, H17, that is not found in Polynesians. Lapita pottery is Melanesian in origin, and can be found on islands since occupied by other people. Also, social status is generally based upon social skills and personal assets, whereas Polynesians use heredity to determine social status. Melanesians are considered the oldest of the Pacific peoples. They, like the Indigenous Australians, with whom Papuan Melanesians share a common ancestry, arrived some thousands of years BC.
The following islands and groups of islands are traditionally considered part of Melanesia: Fiji, Maluku Islands, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Torres Strait Islands, and Vanuatu
Fiji, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu
Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Kiribati, Northern Mariana Islands, Marshall Islands, Nauru and Palau
American Samoa, Easter Island, French Polynesia, Niue, Pitcairn Islands, The Cook Islands, Tokelau, Tuvalu and Wallis & Futuna