Niue is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean. It is commonly known as the "Rock of Polynesia", and inhabitants of the island call it "the Rock" for short. Niue is 2,400 kilometres (1,500 mi) northeast of New Zealand in a triangle between Tonga to the southwest, the Samoas to the northwest, and the Cook Islands to the southeast.
Water is widely available in Niue from two major sources, rainwater and underground water lense. Each village have their own water bore and a large storage tank, tap water is distributed to all consumers.
Hats are the glory of Niue. The tradition has run strongly for over a century and a half and has gained support from church going habits to Niue people acquired in the early nineteen hundreds. If one observes the shapes of some of the hats with the demure bonnet its Sabbatical, Victorian ancestry is impossible to mistake. Indeed much of the inspiration for these hats derives still from the missionary, colonising age. Movements in the nineteenth century fashion, Edwardian too, are echoed in these plate. The ladies of Niue like to display and find pleasure in making and wearing gay, imposing or frivolous headgear. They indeed use to have something of a mania for it and, after copra, hats were the principal export of the Island. About 1900, the value of this trade was 3000 pounds a year, a significant sum and nearly half the total exports if Niue. At the industry peak, it was claimed that 30,000 hats were exported annually.
Niue is just on the borders of the hurricane belt, so they are occasionally felt there, but are not frequent. The native name for a hurricane is afa-takai-waka. Thunderstorms are not infrequent, and sometimes the lightning strikes the coco-nut trees. Earthquakes are occasionally felt, but never of any violence. The Niue name for them is identical with those of Somoa and Tonga, and is the name the Maoris give to the father of Maui, who resided in the nether regions.
Pressure for self-government began after WWII, but as the island's economy was dependent upon NZ aid and family remittances the Niueans were in no rush to go it alone. In 1974 Niue achieved self-government in 'free association' with NZ, and every three years Niue elects a 20-member legislative assembly. Niue has the dubious record of the world's highest per capita number of politicians - one MP for every 65 people. In 2005 the successful MP for the village of Toi was drawn out of a hat after the two candidates scored eight votes each. Congratulations went to Lilivika Muimatagi and commiserations to Dion Taufitu.
Niue has elected a form of government of independence with full representation as a nation in the United Nations. This top heavy bureaucracy is unaffordable, reason why much aid money does not do any good for the island itself. Yet, becoming fully incorporated as part of New Zealand brings other disadvantages as discussed in the chapter about what next? For the moment, the Niue government is strongly determined to maintain their cultural links with their past, while carefully accepting some benefits of the modern world.
Because of its isolation, its environmental background, and its very simple social structure (very much after a republican form), the physical health and strength of Niueans appears perfect. Very little is mentioned of illness and disease. The island was very much blessed and its inhabitants became very much concerned about people from outside coming to the island. Much of the hostility seen by some early visitors to the island reflected how reluctant Niueans were to accept any visitors, simply because they were suspected of bringing with them various sicknesses and diseases which might affect Niueans' health. Even in those early days, because Niueans were very much concerned about protecting their own health, they adopted a policy whereby any sick person was taken away into the bush and left there, away from the presence of the public at large. Such form of primitive quarantine was a common practice of the people of Niue before.
Until around 1960, Niueans had a poorly developed concept of their island as constituting a distinct culture or nation. Between the mid-19th and 20th centuries, Niue was gradually but increasingly exposed to the outside world, resulting in inexorable change in ways of life and Niuean identity. External influences included mission activity, labor migration, colonization, development of a money economy based on agricultural exports and mercantile endeavors, service in foreign wars, and control by a rigid and rather unresponsive administration. People gradually began to develop an allegiance to a broader entity than their natal villages.
In 1774, the English navigator Captain James Cook sighted Niue but was refused landing by the locals on three different attempts. He then named Niue ‘Savage Island’. Missionaries from the LMS (London Missionary Society) established Christianity in 1846. 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 government to this day has followed a Westminster-style rule with a 20 member assembly. The Premier is selected by the House and the Premier then selects 3 other members for Cabinet posts.
Niue is believed to have been inhabited for over a thousand years. Oral tradition and legends speak of the first settlement by 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.
Sometimes affectionately called "the Rock," Niue Island is one of the world's largest coral islands and smallest self-governing states. Niue is a large coral island ten miles by seven miles (16 kilometers by 11 kilometers). Some 350 miles (600 kilometers) southeast of Samoa, Niue has no strategic or trade significance and was not annexed by one of the European powers until 1900, long after most other Pacific islands.