What happened to the blue south pacific. Niue is a
New Zealand protectorate and it's raining so bad that it could be NZ. We can't
see more than 300 metres in any direction and the only way we know Niue is here
is on radar!
NIUE what does it mean. "NIU" = Coconut. "E"
= Behold. The locals reckon that when the first Polynesian settlers
arrived a 1000 years ago the conversation went something like "Eh Bro, this
place has coconuts just like home so I reckon we stay here".
Niue is the largest uplifted coral atoll in the
world. Now what does 'uplifted' mean exactly. As far as I can tell a coral atoll
formed on top of a volcano which has just reach sea level and then the volcano
sunk a little and the coral spread over the top of the volcano to form a solid
mass with no lagoon. At a later time the volcano started to rise again, lifting
the coral about 80 metres into the air.
Which leads us to the Niuean method of burial. For
a start there are no formal cemeteries, people get buried all over, front yard
of a house, a small clearing alongside a roadway some where or where ever the
tribal land is they want to bury their kin in! A backhoe arrives and scrapes a
shallow grave into the hard coral base, the deceased is laid into this
depression in the ground in a plain plywood box, as the ceremony ends, the
concrete mixer starts up, pre made formwork is placed around the hole and the
whole lot is covered in concrete. Often there is a concrete plinth added at a
later date and of course an elaborate marble headstone. The graves are well
tended and flowers every where.
Niue is an independent nation in free association
with New Zealand. There are around 1500 Niueans living on the island and around
15,000 living outside. All Niueans have automatic New Zealand citizenship which
means a whole lot of the 15,000 live in Australia. Met Niueans from Maroubra,
Bondi, Leichhardt etc.
Niue has considerable uranium deposits which miners
have been petitioning the locals to mine for years but to get to it that would
have to break through the fresh water levels under the land and this would cause
considerable ecological problems so to date the government has resisted all
approaches. There is a small village over the deposits which have a lot higher
cancer rate than the rest of the island!
James Cook tried to land here in 1774 and local
legend says that he and his men were scared off by a vigorous welcoming HAKA. He
named Niue 'The Savage Islands'.
One flight a week into Niue from NZ and one flight
out. Departs NZ at 22:30, arrives Niue 02:40 the same day as Niue is across the
International Date Line and at 03:30 the only flight out leaves for
Lorraine & Chip leave us here and we are going
to be joined by Avelyn Davidson & Ian Massam, mates from Taupo in
Another up date soon.