General: Niue (pronounced New-Ay) is a large upraised coral atoll, and is a standalone land mass in the centre of a triangle of Polynesian islands made up of Tonga, Western Samoa and the Cook Islands. Our last island before the International Date Line, being eleven hours behind GMT. The general formation of the island takes the shape of two terraces, the lower terrace being ninety feet above sea level, and the upper terrace about two hundred and twenty feet. The island’s isolation and coral make-up creates an exciting, rugged coastline and reef, which has provided us with amazing snorkeling in crystal clear water in many different coves and chasms. There are no big sandy beaches unlike the rest of Polynesia, this of course helps with water clarity, down as far as we could see, making the water quality ranked some of the very best in the world. There are no lakes or streams on the island so rainfall quickly seeps through the porous coral. The island is affectionately known as “The Rock”.
The Huvalu Rain Forest is home to some incredible indigenous trees and has been designated as a Conservation Area to protect and conserve the islands’ primary rain forest and natural flora and fauna – lovely to see so many butterflies. There are no harmful animals or insects on the island, just some very persistent flies, that once they call you ‘friend’, remain committed, despite numerous flicks and warnings. Indeed, gather one at the beginning of a trek and somehow they managed to stay with us throughout. There are a few mosquitos but they have the good manners to not like sprays. The sea snakes are numerous and are extremely venomous, but, are so docile and polite enough to have their teeth so far back in their mouth, they carry no warnings and pose happily for a photograph or two. The coconut crab is called Uga – pronounced Ona.
In January 2004, Niue was hit by Cyclone Heta, which killed two people and caused extensive damage to the entire island, including wiping out most of the south of the capital, Alofi.
There is no crime here and the people are so very welcoming, it makes Niue a very special island and heaven only knows why it does not get a mention in the 1000 Places to See Book ????
People: Scattered among fourteen neat, colourful villages, Niue’s less than fifteen hundred residents enjoy duel citizenship, as a self-governing nation in free association with New Zealand. They are bi-lingual, speaking both Niuean and English, and enjoy and independent lifestyle, the highest standard of living in all Polynesia. The locals are very respectful, genuinely friendly and hospitable to visitors and have accepted tourism as an important component to their economic development and well-being. They are well educated and are born happy. Everyone waved from their cars, everyone we met stopped to chat, welcomed us warmly and asked about our adventures as soon as they knew we had sailed here.
History and Governance: Niue’s history falls into four defined period: pre-Christianity, Christianity, the Colonial era and self governing. The documentation of Niue’s history was primarily oral and passed down through the generations. It has only been since the period of New Zealand governance that a great deal of literature has been written. The island is believed to have been inhabited for over a thousand years. Oral tradition and legend speaks of the first settlement of Huanaki and Fao, together with the Fire Gods from Fonuagalo, the Hidden Land. Some authorities believe that the island was settled during two principal migrations, one from Samoa and one from Tonga with a smaller migration from Pukapuka in the Cook Islands. In 1774, Captain Cook sighted Niue but was refused landing by the locals on three different occasions. He then named Niue “Savage Island”. Legend has it, the natives that "greeted" him were painted in what appeared to Cook and his crew to be blood. However, the substance on their teeth was that of the hulahula, a native red banana. For the next couple of centuries the island was known as Savage Island, until its original name Niue, which translates as "behold the coconut", regained use.
Niue chiefs gained British Protectorate status in 1900 and in 1901 Niue was annexed to New Zealand. In 1974 Niue gained self government in free association with New Zealand and the government to this day has followed a Westminster-style with a twenty member assembly. The Premier is selected by the House and the Premier then selects three other members for Cabinet posts. Niue holds the dubious record of the highest per capita number of politicians – around one MP for every sixty people.
In 2003, Niue became the world's first "Wi-Fi nation", in which free wireless Internet access is provided throughout the country by The Internet Users Society-Niue. We paid thirteen pounds to get a code and after the quality of connection we had in Palmerston, we were shocked to find it very slow and flaky. Hey, what are we saying. When we left Panama we had no pre-conceived idea of having wi-fi at all and have been constantly surprised at the number of islands we could get a signal, from Beez......
Christianity: Missionaries from the London Missionary Society established Christianity in 1846, arriving on the "Messenger of Peace". After many years of trying to land a European missionary on Niue, a Niuean named Nukai Peniamina was taken to Samoa and trained as a Pastor at the Malua Theological College. Peniamina returned as a missionary with the help of Toimata Fakafitifonua. He was finally allowed to land in Uluvehi Mutalau after a number of attempts in other villages had failed. The Chiefs of Mutalau village allowed Peniamina to land and assigned over sixty warriors to protect him day and night at the fort in Fupiu. Christianity was first taught to the Mutalau people before it was spread to all the villages on Niue; originally other major villages opposed the introduction of Christianity and had sought to kill Peniamina. The people from the village of Hakupu, although the last village to receive Christianity, came and asked for a "word of god"; hence their village was renamed "Ha Kupu Atua" meaning "any word of god", or "Hakupu" for short.
Bear loved this sign dedicated to Peniamina.
ALL IN ALL A TOP ISLAND
VERY DIFFERENT, INCREDIBLY BEAUTIFUL