In New Zealand, it is applied to a person who has emigrated from one of the lesser islands of the Pacific to New Zealand, or one of their descendants born in New Zealand. While the majority of these people originate from Polynesia, others come from Micronesia and Melanesia. The term is used to distinguish these people from the indigenous New Zealand Maori, (who are also Polynesian). A major reason for making the ethnic distinction is that the Pacific People collectively suffer from socio-economic disadvantages and require culturally targeted social and health assistance.
In the United States it refers to people from the same locations living in the U.S. except Native Hawaiians. For instance the census category was "Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islander". This would not include New Zealanders or inhabitants of Japanese and Chinese islands.
See Also: Closing the gaps