By the time European explorers entered the Pacific in the 15th century, almost all of the habitable islands had been settled for hundreds of years and oral traditions told of explorations, migrations and travels across this immense watery world. The first known Christian missionaries in Polynesia came from the London Missionary Society, an ecumenical Protestant organization; they landed in Tahiti, the Marquesas, then Tongatapu in Tonga.
The first Europeans arrived in Tahiti in 1767; in 1797 the London Missionary Society sent 29 missionaries to Tahiti. Toketa, a Tahitian and convert to Christianity, arrived in Hawaiʻi in 1818; he was a member of the household of the chief (Governor) John Adams Kuakini; he became a teacher to Hawaiian chiefs. William Ellis, with the London Missionary Society in Tahiti, arrived in Hawai‘i on February 5, 1823, other Tahitians joined him; the American Mission immediately saw benefit in working with Ellis and the Tahitians.