For the past fifty years, historical linguistics and archaeology have provided seemingly mutually corroboratory evidence for the settlement of east Polynesia. However, more recent findings in archaeology have shifted this relationship out of balance, calling previous conclusions into question. This paper first reviews the generally accepted archaeological and linguistic theories of east Polynesia’s settlement, then describes the recent archaeological findings, highlighting the areas where the evidence from the two disciplines is now discordant. In sections four and five, I examine the linguistic data from Eastern Polynesian languages and propose a new, contact-based model for the region. The new linguistic model ultimately demonstrates that the settlement of east Polynesia and the development of the Eastern Polynesian languages occurred in one major period of dispersal, with subsequent spheres of contact among central Polynesian communities, producing the pattern of cultural and linguistic traits we see today.