The indigenous people of New Caledonia lacked an ethnonym for themselves prior to European contact. They are known today as Canaques or Kanaks, an exonym derived from the Hawaiian 'kanaka'. Although they speak over 30 languages, the Kanak people share a similar culture. The Ajie-speaking Kanaks of the Houailou Valley were described in detail by the French missionary / ethnographer Maurice Leenhardt, who oversaw their conversion to Christianity in the early twentieth century.