Niue revels in its status as the world’s smallest "country". While 1,700 Niuens live on the island, more than 30,000 – more than 95% of the its people - live in New Zealand, where they enjoy citizenship rights.
Niue is a self-governing democracy, operating in free association with New Zealand. There are no armed forces in Niue, as New Zealand is responsible for Niue’s defense. Niue's status as self-governing in free association with NZ means the Kiwis are constitutionally obliged to provide economic and administrative assistance. The population is something of a mystery, but around 1000, depending on how many fly in and out on the weekly plane paid for with New Zealand aid. With a 20-seat assembly, Niue has more MPs per capita than any other country. It uses the New Zealand dollar for its currency, and is a dependency of New Zealand, not an independent country.
Niue [nye-you or nee-you-way] and Niuean [pronounced "Nye-ran"] are a bit difficult pronounce. Under the Niue Constitution, New Zealand provides necessary economic and administrative assistance, and is responsible for Niue's defence and surveillance of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The economy suffers from the typical Pacific island problems of geographic isolation, few resources, and a small population.
The population of the island continues to drop (from a peak of 5,200 in 1966 to an estimated 1,190 in 2014) with substantial emigration to New Zealand 2,400 km to the southwest. About 24,000 Niueans live in New Zealand, compared to 1,460 living in Niue (2011 Census).
Known as the Rock of Polynesia, it sits in the centre of a triangle formed by Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands. Niue's remoteness, as well as cultural and linguistic differences between its Polynesian inhabitants and those of the adjacent Cook Islands, has caused it to be separately administered by New Zealand. Niue became a British Protectorate in 1900 and was annexed to New Zealand in 1901. In 1974 the people of Niue adopted a Constitution providing for self-government in free association with New Zealand. This is different from full independence. Under the Niue Constitution, New Zealand provides necessary economic and administrative assistance, and is responsible for Niue's defence and surveillance of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Because Niueans are New Zealand citizens, they can work and study here without requiring special visas.
Niue is the largest raised coral atoll in the world. It's a single island nation with a land mass of 260 square kilometres and an EEZ of 390,000 square kilometers. The culture may be Polynesian but the scenery is a far cry from the palm-fringed atolls that make up most Pacific nations. Niue is formed from a gigantic slab of porous limestone covered with tropical vegetation. With no lakes or streams, rain filters cleanly down to the sea, devoid of murky sediment. Underwater visibility can reach up to 100 meteres.
Niue lies in a tropical cyclone belt and is hit by devastating tropical cyclones about once every 10 years. New Zealand aid for rebuilding on Niue following cyclones in 1959 and 1960 exposed Niueans to a cash economy and helped stimulate migration.
Niuean's take pride in their many traditions and culture being handed down from generation to generation as a ‘living entity’ where many are still being observed today. Cultural values are also well preserved today as it is from the past where our forefathers greatly contribute their well-kept knowledge that can be handed down to future generations. Niuean culture and craft are key components of “Taoga Niue” and mean everything to a Niuean.
Religion in Niue is sacred which is preserved on a Sunday and is widely consider as a day of worship and rest. The church plays a large part in the community and there are many denominations catered for. The beautiful singing at churches on Sunday is a significant event to witness during mass despite whatever belief or religion you follow. However appropriate dress wear should be adhered to on Sunday to respect the community at large and visitors are asked to be considerate of the local Sunday observances. The Ekalesia Niue (Congregational Christian Church of Niue - a Protestant church founded by missionaries from the London Missionary Society) - accounts for 67% of the population. Other Protestants are 3% (includes Seventh Day Adventist 1%, Presbyterian 1%, and Methodist 1%), Mormon 10%, Roman Catholic 10%, Jehovah's Witnesses 2%, other 6%, none 2% (2011 est.)
Niue's economy is fragile and faces many contraints including limited land, poor soil, limited air service, a shortage of skilled professionals and entrepreneurs, and a declining population. Niue depends on imported fuel and food to supplement its subsistence agriculture and fishing, and this is reflected in its trading relationship with New Zealand. Niue's income from tourism has been growing, and there's potential for more growth as air services increase and more accommodation and other infrastructure is built. The agricultural sector consists mainly of subsistence gardening, although some cash crops are grown for export. Industry consists primarily of small factories for processing passion fruit, lime oil, honey, and coconut cream. The sale of postage stamps to foreign collectors is an important source of revenue.
Government expenditures regularly exceed revenues, and the shortfall is made up by critically needed grants from New Zealand that are used to pay wages to public employees. Economic aid allocation from New Zealand in FY13/14 was US$10.1 million. Niue has cut government expenditures by reducing the public service by almost half.
The island in recent years has suffered a serious loss of population because of emigration to New Zealand. Efforts to increase GDP include the promotion of tourism and financial services, although the International Banking Repeal Act of 2002 resulted in the termination of all offshore banking licenses.
Niue is self-governing in free association with New Zealand since 1974; Niue fully responsible for internal affairs; New Zealand retains responsibility for external affairs and defense; however, these responsibilities confer no rights of control and are only exercised at the request of the Government of Niue.
Niue has a unicameral Niue Assembly (Niue Fono Ekepule) with 20 seats, 6 members are elected by block vote on a common role to serve 3-year terms and 14 members are elected by majority vote in single-member constituencies, representing the 14 villages of Niue, to serve 3-year terms. Unadulterated by formal political parties, attack ads, or costly campaigns, elections on the tight-knit Pacific island of Niue are democracy in pure form. The Premier of Niue, Sir Toke Talagi, has lost his bid for a Common Roll seat in the weekend's election, effectively ending his 12 year reign. Sir Toke had kept a low profile in the lead-up to the election, missing many of the public forums and organised question and answer sessions in the weeks preceding the vote. The veteran politician ranked 10th out of a record 26 candidates running for the six Common Roll seats. The New premier Dalton Tagelagi wanted to open his country to other Pacific countries and its benefactor, New Zealand. Niue’s isolation has spared it a single case of COVID-19, but the country is hugely dependent on remittances, foreign aid, and tourism, which have been devastated by the pandemic shutdowns.
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