|THE NIUE COAT OF ARMS|
Location of Niue within the Geographic Region of Oceania
Map of Niue
Flag Description of Niue: The island is a self-governing territory of New Zealand. The flag displays the Union Jack upper left, representing New Zealand's long association with Great Britain. The centered gold star represents Niue, and the four smaller stars represent New Zealand.
Background of Niue
Niue, internally self-governing island state in free association with New Zealand. It is the westernmost of the Cook Islands but is administratively separate from them. Niue lies some 1,340 miles (2,160 km) northeast of Auckland, N.Z., and 240 miles (385 km) east of the Vavaʿu Group of Tonga, in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. Niue is sometimes called “the Rock of Polynesia,” or simply “the Rock.” The capital and largest settlement is Alofi. Area 100 square miles (260 square km). Pop. (2006) 1,625.
Geography and Demography of Niue
Niue is an elevated atoll shaped like a two-tiered wedding cake with two terraces rising from the sea. It's one of the largest uplifted coral islands in the world (though 1,196-square-km Lifou in New Caledonia is much bigger).
The lower terrace rises sharply, creating the 20-meter coastal cliffs that virtually surround the island. Inland, a second terrace rises abruptly from this coastal belt to a central plateau some 60 meters above the ocean.
According to Professor Patrick Nunn of the University of the South Pacific, the uplifting continues and half a million years from now Niue will be 50-70 meters higher than it is today.
A fringing reef borders much of the coast, but in places the ocean breakers smash directly into precipitous cliffs. Faulting during the island's uplifting has created the chasms and crevices that are Niue's greatest attractions. Water dripping from their ceilings has added a touch of the surreal in the form of stalactites and stalagmites.
Cruise ships and yachts sailing between the Cook Islands and Tonga sometimes stop for snorkeling at Beveridge Reef, 200 km southeast of Niue and a possession of the country. Beveridge's horseshoe-shaped lagoon is easily entered through a pass on the west side. Like an oasis in the desert, this flourishing ecosystem is surrounded by vast expanses of open sea.
- Niue is a roughly oval, raised coral island that is about 40 miles (65 km) in circumference. The island has two distinct levels. The upper level, a central plateau with a maximum elevation of approximately 200 feet (60 metres), slopes steeply down at its edges to the lower level, a coastal terrace about 0.3 miles (0.5 km) wide and 80–90 feet (25–27 metres) high, which in turn slopes down to meet the sea in small cliffs. A fringing reef surrounds the island.
Precipitation on Niue averages about 80 inches (2,000 mm) annually and falls mostly during heavy rainstorms (sometimes including tropical cyclones) from December to March. A devastating cyclone struck Niue in 2004, causing a number of deaths and substantial property damage in the coastal areas, including the capital. The wet season, which is humid and warm, lasts from November to March, and the cooler dry season from April to October.
The island’s soil is extremely porous, so that water catchment from roofs is necessary to provide adequate water supply. The vegetation cover is scant but includes large trees, such as banyans and Tahiti chestnuts. There are also coconuts, fan palms, and pandanus, as well as hibiscus and other shrubs, ferns, and creepers.
The population is mostly Polynesian. English is widely spoken, and a large number of people speak both English and Niuean, a Polynesian language akin to Tongan and Samoan; a small proportion speak only Niuean. The inhabitants are predominantly Christian. Most people live in villages on the fertile coastal strip, which is intensively cultivated. The population declined throughout the late 20th and early 21st centuries as many Niueans migrated to New Zealand because of limited economic prospects at home. In the early 21st century there were many times more native-born Niueans and their descendants living in New Zealand than on Niue itself.
Niue’s currency is the New Zealand dollar. The economy is based mainly on agriculture. About one-fourth of the land is arable and is held in traditional family patterns; land ownership is passed down through family lines, and, by law, land cannot be sold to foreigners. Passion fruit, coconuts, pawpaw, and limes are cash crops. Subsistence crops include taro (locally called talo), yams, bananas, sugarcane, papaya, guava, and citrus fruits. Livestock includes pigs, chickens, and cattle, and fishing is conducted for domestic needs. The government has made the development of the fishing industry a priority, and a fish-processing plant was opened in the village of Amanau in 2004. About one-fifth of the land is forested. Manufacturing is centred on processing crops and includes lime juice, passion fruit, copra, honey, leather goods, and handicrafts for export. An industrial park was established in Fonuakula in the early 21st century. Tourism makes a growing contribution to the economy.
Alofi is the main port, and the island has a small airport as well. New Zealand is the major trading partner and source of financial aid. Continued financial assistance from New Zealand and international aid agencies, as well as remittances from relatives overseas, remain the key elements in maintaining a relatively high standard of living. The sale of postage stamps to philatelists and of fishing licenses as well as the provision of offshore banking services have also been important revenue sources.
Under the 1974 Niue Constitution Act, Niue is self-governing, though Niueans are New Zealand citizens and members of the Commonwealth. New Zealand is responsible for defense and external affairs as well as administrative and economic assistance as necessary. Executive authority is vested in the British monarch, represented by the governor-general of New Zealand. The leader of the government is the premier, elected by the 20-member Legislative Assembly. The members of the assembly are elected by universal adult suffrage; the legal voting age is 18. The majority of assembly members are elected from village constituencies; the rest are elected by all voters and serve as at-large members. The premier selects a cabinet from among the members of the assembly. A general election is held at least every three years, upon the dissolution of the Legislative Assembly at the request of the premier. Education is free and compulsory between ages 5 and 16. There is an extension centre of the University of the South Pacific at Alofi.
December to March are the hurricane months, with average temperatures of 27° C. The southeast trade winds blow from April to November and temperatures average 24° C. The 2,047 mm of annual rainfall is fairly well distributed throughout the year, with a slight peak during the hot southern summer.
There's good anchorage at Alofi, except during strong westerly winds.
In January 2004, Heta, the worst hurricane in living memory, flattened buildings and vegetation on the southwest side of Niue.
Hurricanes in the Tropics
The official hurricane (or cyclone) season south of the equator is November-April, although hurricanes have also occurred in May and October. Since the ocean provides the energy, these low-pressure systems can only form over water with a surface temperature above 27° C; during years when water temperatures are high (such as during an El Niño) their frequency increases. The rotation of the earth must give the storm its initial spin, and this occurs mostly between latitudes 5 and 20 on either side of the equator.
As rainfall increases and the seas rise, the winds are drawn into a spiral that reaches its maximum speed in a ring around the center. In the South Pacific, a cyclone develops as these circular winds, rotating clockwise around a center, increase in velocity: force 8-9 winds blowing at 34-47 knots are called a gale, force 10-11 at 48-63 knots is a storm, force 12 winds revolving at 64 knots or more is a hurricane. Wind speeds can go as high as 100 knots, with gusts to 140 knots on the left side of the storm's path in the direction it's moving.
The eye of the hurricane can be 10-30 kilometers wide and surprisingly clear and calm, although at sea, contradictory wave patterns continue to wreak havoc. In the South Pacific, most hurricanes move south at speeds of 5-20 knots. As water is sucked into the low-pressure eye of the hurricane and waves reach 14 meters in height, coastlines can receive a surge of up to four meters of water, especially if the storm enters a narrowing bay or occurs at high tide.
Flora and Fauna
- The waters off Niue are clear as can be, with countless species of colorful fish.
- There are also many varieties of sea snakes. Though they're poisonous, their mouths are too tiny to bite, and divers handle them with impunity
- On most dives, underwater sightseers also spot white-tip reef sharks, but they're not dangerous and add to the thrill.
- Butterflies are everywhere, as are orchids, hibiscus, frangipani, and bougainvillea.
- One-fifth of the island's surface is covered by undisturbed primary forest, much of the rest by secondary growth.
- A profusion of huge "crow's nest" (nidum) and other ferns, rhododendron, and poinsettia grow wild, and there are ancient ebony trees.
- The birdlife is rich; white long-tailed terns, weka, swamp hens, pigeons, and parakeets abound. The Polynesian starling and Polynesian triller evolved into subspecies not found elsewhere.
The People of Niue
Niueans are related to the Tongans and Samoans rather than to the Tahitians. The population is about 1,600 (down from 4,000 at self-government in 1974). Another 20,000 Niueans reside in New Zealand (all Niueans are N.Z. citizens), and every year more people leave "the Rock" (Niue) to seek employment and opportunity abroad. Many of the landowners have left—you'll never see as many empty houses and near-ghost towns as you'll see here. The villages on the east coast give an idea of how Europe must have looked after a plague in the Middle Ages, as direct flights to Auckland have drained the population. Remittances from Niueans in New Zealand are an important source of income.
The remaining inhabitants live in small villages scattered along the coast, with a slight concentration near the administrative center, Alofi. After disastrous hurricanes in 1959 and 1960, the New Zealand government replaced the traditional lime-plastered, thatched-roofed houses of the people with tin-roofed "hurricane-resistant" concrete-block dwellings.
Niue has the lowest population density of any Pacific country, and at 15 per thousand, Niue's birth rate is the lowest in the Pacific. Only about a quarter of the Niueans living in New Zealand can still speak their ancestral language proficiently.
Vaiea village is unusual in the almost the entire population is from Tuvalu, a group of central Pacific atolls threatened by rising sea levels. Niue has sought Tuvalu migrants, but most stay only long enough to get New Zealand residency and move on. However, Vaiea would be dead if they weren't there.
All land is held by families. Three-quarters belong to the Ekalesia Nieue, founded by the London Missionary Society. Other churches such as the Catholics and Mormons have only a few hundred members.
There are no longer any chiefs, and lineage means little. Since the 1950s, education has been free and compulsory until the age of 14, and literacy is almost 100 percent. Two Polynesian dialects are spoken: Motu in the north and Tafiti in the south. Everyone on the island knows everyone else.
A major event for a teenage boy is his haircutting ceremony, when the long tail of hair he has kept since childhood is removed. Guests invited to the concurrent feast contribute hundreds of dollars to a fund that goes to the boy after the celebration expenses have been paid. For girls there's a similar ear-piercing ceremony. These gatherings are usually held on a Saturday in private homes; you may be invited to attend if you know someone.
Economy of Niue
Niue is totally dependent on official aid from New Zealand, which supplies three-quarters of the local budget. Overseas aid totals about NZ$14 million a year or NZ$10,000 per capita, one of the highest levels in the South Pacific.
Most of the money is used to support the infrastructure, which maintains an artificial, consumer-oriented standard of living. Many government services are provided free and virtually every household on the island has at least one and usually two government workers. The private section depends on their spending and government spending.
Imports are 45 times higher than exports, one of the largest such imbalances in the world. Transportation difficulties have always hampered exports. Tourism, the sale of postage stamps to philatelists, and limited royalties from overseas fishing companies help balance the island's cash flow. Top level domain names bearing Niue's internet ending .nu are marketed worldwide through www.nunames.nu. Such domains are especially popular in Sweden as "nu" means "now" in Swedish.
In 1993, Niue set up a "financial center" similar to those of Vanuatu and the Cook Islands to support overseas firms trying to avoid taxation in their real places of business. Since then, a Panama City law firm has registered over 6,000 "international business companies" in Niue, and the fees they pay account for 10 percent of government revenue.
In 2001, rumors began circulating that the South American cocaine cartels were laundering money through Niue and several large American banks started blocking transfers to the island. After the Financial Action Task Force representing the world's largest economies threatened the country with sanctions in 2002, Niue announced that it was shutting down its offshore banking facilities but not the company register. Since then, the Task Force has taken Niue off its blacklist of "non-cooperative jurisdictions."
In 1996, the New Zealand government spent NZ$10 million extending the airport runway and building the Matavai Resort in the hope of promoting tourism to Niue. Even so, Niue's hotels stand empty most of the time. Of the 3,000 "tourists" who arrive each year, half are generally overseas Niueans visiting relatives. Seventy percent of visitors are New Zealanders.
Although attempts have been made to stimulate agriculture, the economy is continually undermined by the emigration of working-age Niueans to New Zealand (to which Niueans have unhindered entry).
In the past, small quantities of passion fruit, lime juice, canned coconut cream, and honey have been exported. The coconut cream factory closed in 1989 after a hurricane wiped out the island's coconut plantations; in 1990, Hurricane Ofa destroyed the lime and passion fruit crops. Periodic droughts have also taken a heavy toll.
Noni is the current agricultural boom crop with a processing plant opened in 2004. Taro, yams, cassava, sweet potatoes, papaya, and bananas are actively cultivated in bush gardens for personal consumption by the growers. Local farmers also grow vanilla, and a few pigs, poultry, and beef cattle are kept.
Saturday is bush day, when people go inland to clear, plant, and weed their gardens. Now farmers are turning to organic produce to serve the lucrative natural foods market in New Zealand. Efforts are being made to make Niue the first pesticide-free, entirely organic country in the world.
Government and Politics of Niue
The Niue Constitution Act of 1974 allowed for a 20 member Legislative Assembly. 14 are elected to represent each village and the remaining six from the National Register called a Common Roll.
A Premier, to lead the Government is elected by the Legislative Assembly who in turn selects three associates a four member Cabinet. A Speaker of the Assembly is selected from outside the ranks of the Legislative Assembly members. All local residents over 18 years and over are eligible to vote.
The 1974 Niue Constitution Act
Following the results of the September 1974 Referendum with the required 66% for the proposed constitutional change from integration to a self governing state The Niue Constitution Act became law on the 19th October 1974 containing the following important provisions:
- That Niue becomes a self governing state in free association with New Zealand.
- The Constitution shall be the supreme Law of Niue
- That Niueans are New Zealand Citizens
- That her Majesty in right of New Zealand be responsible for the external affairs and defence of Niue
- That It shall be a continuing responsibility of the Government of New Zealand to provide necessary economic and administrative assistance to Niue.
Niue's Parliamentary System
Following a plea from British missionaries and island leaders, the island became a British Protectorate at the turn of the 20th
Niue’s system of government is based on the Westminster system. The Niue Assembly consists of 20 members, 14 of whom are elected by village constituencies and 6 from the common roll. The 20 members elect a Premier and the Premier selects three cabinet ministers from the 19. Members elect a Speaker from outside their ranks. A general election is held every three years. century. Shortly thereafter, in an agreement with the British government, New Zealand took over responsibility for Niue in 1901. The island remained a territory of New Zealand until October 1974 when it adopted self-rule, but continues to retain New Zealand citizenship, a contributing factor in the large presence of Niueans in Auckland.
Niue’s Parliamentary system is based on the Westminster model offering universal suffrage to all permanent residents 18 years and over in a General Election held every three years. To be eligible to vote permanent residents must be present on Niue on the day of the elections, and there are no provisions under the Niue Constitution Act to allow voting rights to Niueans living abroad.
The Constitution Act of 1974 requires that 20 members will be elected to constitute a Fono Ekepule [Niue Legislative Assembly] composing of 14 Members from each of the 14 villages and 6 Members from the Common Roll Register.
On Election Day eligible permanent residents in each village constituency may cast 7 votes – 1 for the village Member, and up to 6 names from the Common Roll Register. There are provisions in the 1974 Constitution Act that allow an uncontested nominated candidate in a village constituency automatic membership in the Niue Fono Ekepule, but the 6 candidates from the Common Roll Register must be voted for by all eligible voters on the day. The first 6 Common Roll candidates with the most popular votes [first past the post’] become members of the Niue Fono Ekepule. There are also provisions in the Constitution Act that allow a ‘taken out of the hat decision’ in the event of a tie between two or more candidates.
At the first Meeting of the Niue Fono Ekepule a Speaker of the House must be appointed in order to legitimatise the Oath Swearing ceremony of all 20 elected members, which once completed a Premier is chosen to lead the Government.
The Premier at his earliest convenience may, after consultation choose 3 members from the Niue Fono Ekepule to form a Team of Cabinet Ministers who will be responsible for the day to day of the government of Niue. Normally during the meeting of Cabinet Ministers a Clerk to Cabinet and the Secretary to Government will be present.
The Premier and Cabinet Ministers may appoint a Chief Judge to form the Judicial arm of the Government thereby completing the legal requisites that are required by the Niue Constitution Act 1974.
Important Niue Government Sectors
Premier’s Secretary to Government: Richard HIPA Deputy Secretary to Government: Mr Justin Kamupala Contact: PO Box 40, Alofi, NIUE Telephone (683) 4200 Facsimile (683) 4232
Public Service Commission Chairperson : Mrs Taumalua Jackson Member : Mr Crossley Tatui Member : John Tiakia Contact : PO Box 125, Alofi, NIUE Telephone : (683) 4210 Facsimile : (683) 4211
Administrative Service Director: Mrs Wennie SALATIELU (Acting) Contact: PO Box 67, Alofi, NIUE Telephone (683) 4018 Facsimile (683) 4305
Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries Director: Mr Brendon PASISI Contact: PO Box 74, Alofi, Niue Telephone (683) 4032 Facsimile (683) 4079
Community Affairs Director Mr Fa’apoi AKESI Library Officer Ms Amanda Heka Contact: PO Box 77, Alofi, NIUE Telephone (683) 4019 Facsimile (683) 4391
Education Director Mrs Loseligi SIAKIMOTU Contact: PO Box 32, Alofi, NIUE Telephone (683) 4145 Facsimile (683) 4301
Environment & Biodiversity Director Mr Sauni TONGATULE Contact: PO Box 77, Alofi, NIUE Telephone (683) 4021 Facsimile (683) 4391
Health Director Dr Sitaleki FINAU Contact: PO Box 33, Alofi, NIUE Telephone (683) 4100 Facsimile (683) 4265
Treasury Financial Secretary Mike FLEMMING Chief Accountant Doug Contact: PO Box 36, Alofi, NIUE Telephone (683) 4047 Facsimile (683) 4350
Bulk Fuel Manager Mr Desmond Tukutama Contact: Alofi, NIUE Telephone (683) 4119 Facsimile (683) 4362
Power Supply General Manager Mr Hetututama Hetutu Contact: PO Box 198, Alofi, NIUE Telephone (683) 4119 Facsimile (683) 4385
Telecommunication & Post Director Mr Richard Hipa Contact: PO Box 37, Alofi, NIUE Telephone (683) 4000 Facsimile (683) 4010
Broadcasting General Manager Mr Patrick Lino Contact: PO Box 68, Alofi, NIUE Telephone (683) 4026 Facsimile (683) 4217
Development Bank General Manager Mrs Angela Tuhipa Contact: PO Box 34, Alofi, NIUE Telephone (683) 4335 Facsimile (683) 4290
Tourism Director Mrs Ida Talagi Hekesi Contact: PO Box 42, Alofi, NIUE Telephone (683) 6224 Facsimile (683) 4225
External Affairs Head: Mrs Christine Ioane New Public Service Building Telephone: (683) 4018 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Civil Aviation Director Mr Laga Lavini Contact: PO Box 40, Alofi, NIUE Telephone (683) 4020 Facsimile (683) 4215
Police Chief of Police: Mr Ross ARDEN Contact: PO Box 69, Alofi, NIUE Telephone (683) 4333 Facsimile (683) 4230
Public Works Director Mr Deve TALAGI Contact: PO Box 38, Alofi, NIUE Telephone (683) 4297 Facsimile (683) 4223
Crown Law Office Head Ms Peleni Talagi Contact: PO Box 40, Alofi, NIUE Telephone (683) 4228 Fax (683) 4208 Email : email@example.com
Niue Financial Intelligence Unit Head Peleni Talagi Contact PO Box 70, Commercial Centre, Alofi, Niue Telephone (683) 4228 Fax : (683) 4208 Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Customs & Tax Office Head Mr Sione Pokau Sionetuato Contact: PO Box 36, Alofi, NIUE Telephone (683) 4122 Facsimile (683) 4150
Economic Planning & Development Unit Head Mrs Gloria Talagi - Lines Contact: PO Box 40, Alofi, Niue Telephone (683) 4148 Facsimile (683) 4183
Immigration Office Immigration Officer Mrs Tapu Pihigia Acting Immigration Officer Tony Kose Contact: PO Box 69, Alofi, NIUE Telephone (683) 4349/4333 Facsimile (683) 4336
Statistics Office Head Mr Kim Ray Vaha Contact: PO Box 40, Alofi, NIUE Telephone (683) 4219 Facsimile (683) 4183
Quarantine Office Head Mrs Crisbina Konelio Contact: PO Box 74, Alofi, NIUE Telephone (683) 4032 Facsimile (683) 4079
Justice, Lands & Survey Secretary for Justice: APPOINTMENT PENDING Contact: PO Box 75, Alofi, NIUE Telephone (683) 4128 Facsimile (683) 4231
Meteorology & Climate Change Director: Mr Sionetasi PULEHETOA Contact: PO Box 82, Alofi, Niue Telephone: (683) 4601 Facsimil: e (683) 4602
Culture of Niue
Most people belong to the Ekalesia Niue, a Protestant denomination; also Latter Day Saints (Mormon), Jehovah's Witness, Roman Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist and other Christian denominations.
- Social conventions:
Niuean children are bestowed with gifts of money or handmade mats and cloths from their relatives upon coming of age, when girls have their ears pierced and boys receive their first haircut. It is polite to ask permission before entering private land. Niueans consider Sunday as a serious day of rest and most attend church both in the morning and afternoon. While many people play golf, go swimming or sightsee, certain activities, such as boating and fishing, are not allowed on Sunday. For further information on Sunday protocol, contact the Niue Tourism Office (see Contact Addresses). Clothing is usually casual, cool and comfortable but women often wear a hat and cover their shoulders for church and men wear long trousers. Swimming attire is not acceptable in towns or villages.
Society and culture
Niue has one primary school on the island, one secondary school, and one early childhood education facility. Literacy rates are 95 percent for the total population.
Although Niue has fewer than 500 rugby players, the nation competes keenly on the World Rugby Sevens Circuit. Many participants are based in New Zealand, and some play for their adopted country—the most-capped All Black center Frank Bunce is Niuean-Samoan. Despite being one of the world’s smallest rugby-playing nations, in 2003, Niue beat both Japan and the U.S. Other popular sports include kilikiti (Niuean cricket), netball (a sport based on basketball), and softball.
In the arts, John Pule has established himself as both a writer and a printmaker—his novel The Shark That Ate the Sun (1992) describes the journeys, difficulties, and bonds of a migrant Niuean family.
Popular hip hop artist Che Fu draws heavily on his Niuean–Māori heritage for inspiration. He has won several Tui Awards, a New Zealand music award. Manaia Studio is the only recording studio on the island. Church choirs are common.
History of Niue
There is archaeological evidence that Niue was settled about 900 ce by Samoans. According to tradition, a second group, a war party from Tonga, arrived sometime in the 16th century. Capt. James Cook landed on Niue in 1774 and, because of hostility from the Niueans, named it Savage Island. London Missionary Society members began to arrive in the 1830s, and by the 1850s the islanders had been converted to Christianity.
In 1900 Great Britain established a protectorate over Niue. The following year the island was annexed to New Zealand as part of the Cook Islands, but in 1903 it was separated and given its own resident commissioner and island council. The first Niuean Legislative Assembly was elected in 1960, and in 1966 the resident commissioner’s authority was partly delegated to the assembly and a Niuean leader of government was installed. In 1974 the people voted for a new constitution, choosing self-government in association with New Zealand. The devastation caused by a tropical cyclone in 2004 greatly affected the economy, and over the next few years the island began to rebuild with the help of foreign aid, particularly from the New Zealand government and the European Investment Bank. Niue is a member of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the
--- Most of the inhabitants of Niue descend from settlers from Tonga, Samoa and Fiji, who arrived between AD 600-1000, developing their own particular culture. The first Europeans reached Niue in the wake of Captain Cook's expedition to the region in 1774. Administered by the London Missionary Society from 1846, it became a British Protectorate in 1900. The island was then formally annexed to New Zealand in 1901, as part of the Cook Islands. In October 1974, Niue was granted 'self-government in free association with New Zealand', making it the smallest self-governing state with that status. This also allows Niueans to retain New Zealand citizenship while maintaining self-government in their own country.
The only formal political party is the Niue People's Party (NPP), which has dominated politics on the island since its formation in 1987. Although it has not always enjoyed an absolute majority, it has been able to govern with the support of independents. The current premier is the veteran Mititaigimimene Young Vivian who took over following the most recent poll in April 2002.
The major problems facing Niue are chronic population decline caused by emigration and the fragility of the island's status as an offshore tax haven (see Economy section), which is under threat from new measures designed to tackle international money laundering. Niue is also vulnerable to Pacific cyclones: in January 2004, the island suffered serious damage from Cyclone Heta.
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