Generally each island maintained a guild of navigators who had very high status; in times of famine or difficulty they could trade for aid or evacuate people to neighboring islands.
As of 2014, these traditional navigation methods are still taught in the Polynesian outlier of Taumako Island in the Solomons.
Polynesian navigators employed a whole range of techniques including use of the stars, the movement of ocean currents and wave patterns, the air and sea interference patterns caused by islands and atolls, the flight of birds, the winds and the weather.
Certain seabirds such as the White tern and Noddy tern feed on fish in the morning and return to rest on land at night time.
The pattern of settlement also extended to the north of Samoa to the Tuvaluan atolls, with Tuvalu providing a stepping stone to migration into the Polynesian Outlier communities in Melanesia and Micronesia.
However, they also relied heavily on close observation of sea sign and a large body of knowledge from oral tradition.
In this region, the distinctive Polynesian culture developed.
The Polynesians are then believed to have spread eastward from the Samoan Islands into the Marquesas, the Society Islands, the Hawaiian Islands and Easter Island; and south to New Zealand.
Navigators use these birds to guide them to land by following where the birds are flying from in the morning which they are flying so they would lead them to the land.
Birds habits change during nesting season which is another thing navigators must be mindful of when voyaging. military during World War II, Gatty outlined various Polynesian navigation techniques Allied sailors or aviators wrecked at sea could use to find their way to land.