group of islands in the South Pacific, west of the Society Islands: a self-governing territory associated with New Zealand: 113 sq mi (293 sq km); pop. 19,000
An island group of the southern Pacific Ocean east of Samoa. Inhabited by Polynesians who arrived around 1,500 years ago, the islands are named for Capt. James Cook, who visited them in 1773. They are now self-governing under the sovereignty of New Zealand.