The Book of Mormon speculates that some of the colonists on Hagoth's ships "were drowned in the depths of the sea." (Alma 63:8.) While the book gives no further explanation regarding their fate, it is generally accepted by today's members that the colonists did not drown but drifted off course, landed on some of the islands of the Pacific that became part of what is now Polynesia.
"The only way we know these Polynesian people are from Hagoth is by revelation through presidents of the Church and from patriarchal blessings. The Book of Mormon doesn't teach it," said Monte S. Nyman, BYU associate dean of religious education.Robert E. Parsons, BYU associate professor of ancient scripture, has a copy of a report made by Stuart Meha, a New Zealand Maori who was among a group of members who traveled to Salt Lake City in the early 1900s to go to the temple.
Meha wrote that the Maoris, upon arriving on the U.S. western coast, sent a telegram to the Salt Lake City New Zealand Missionary Society: "Who knows but what Hagoth has returned. Pea." (Pea is Maori for "perhaps.")
President Joseph F. Smith met with the members before their return to New Zealand. President Smith, who had served as a missionary in Hawaii, knew pea meant "perhaps" in Hawaiian and Maori. Meha reported that President Smith said, "I would like to say to you brethren and sisters from New Zealand, `You are some of Hagoth's people, and there is no pea [perhaps] about it.'"
Other prophets have referred to Pacific islanders as descendants of Lehi. In the Hawaii Temple dedicatory prayer, Nov. 27, 1919, President Heber J. Grant gave thanks that the "descendants of Lehi, in this favored land, have come to a knowledge of the gospel. . . ." He asked that the Lord bless the "natives of this land . . . that all the great and glorious promises made concerning the descendants of Lehi, may be fulfilled in them. . . ." (Temples of the Most High, compiled by N.B. Lundwall.)
In the dedicatory prayer for the New Zealand Temple, April 20, 1958, President David O. McKay expressed "gratitude that to these fertile islands thou didst guide descendants of Father Lehi. . . ." (Church News, May 10, 1958.)