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Official Name - Niue
Land Area - 260 sq km - one single raised coral atoll
Population - 1625 (2006 census). Current estimate 1500.
Capital - Alofi
Religions - Predominantly Protestant Christian (Ekalesia Niue)
Official Languages - Niuean and English
Currency - New Zealand Dollar
EEZ - 390,000 sq km
Political system - Parliamentary democracy
National government - Premier and three ministers constitute the Cabinet. There are also 2 assistant ministers with portfolios outside of Cabinet.
National legislature - Unicameral Assembly made up of 20 members, 14 village representatives and 6 from a Common Roll
Last election - 7 May 2011
Next election due - 2014
Head of State - The Queen in Right of New Zealand, represented by the Governor-General of New Zealand
Head of Government - Hon Toke Tufukia Talagi
Key Ministers - Hon Toke Tufukia Talagi, Minister for Premier’s Department – Legislature, Cabinet Services, Corporate Services, Crown Law Office, External Affairs, Project Management Unit, Economic Development Planning and Statistics (Private Sector, Trade),Finance, Customs & Revenue and Government Assets Taxation, Infrastructure, Transport, Niue Public Service Commission, Police and National Security, Immigration and Population, Civil Aviation, Niue Tourism, Niue Posts and Telecommunications/ITC, Niue Development Bank, Taoga Niue, Religion, Environment, Youth & Sports Development and Met Service & Climate Change - Hon Joan Sisiati Tahafa Viliamu, Minister for Health, Justice Lands and Survey; Community Affairs, Niue Broadcasting Corporation Hon Halene Kupa Magatola, Minister for Public Works, Power Corporation, Justice Lands and Survey and Bulk Fuel - Hon Billy Graham Talagi, Assistant Minister assisting with Premier’s portfolios for Toaga Niue, religion and Environment -
Hon Dalton Tegelagi, Assistant Minister assisting with Premier’s portfolios for Youth and Sports Development, Meterological Service and Climate Change.
GDP - NZ$25.5 million (2009)
GDP breakdown - Government non-market 40%, formal cash economy 25%
GDP per capita - NZ$16,575 (2009)
Exports - NZ$0.346 million (year ended December 2011)
Imports - NZ$14 million (year ended December 2011)
Main exports - Noni , taro, honey
Current account - N/A
Inflation - 0.38% (2005)
Gross external debt - N/A
NZ Exports (FOB) - NZ$14 million (December 2011)
Main Exports - Meat, other foodstuffs, building materials, machinery and equipment, petrol, beverages
NZ Imports (CIF) - NZ$0.346 million (December 2011)
Main Imports - Taro
New Zealand and Niue have a special relationship founded on close historical ties, unique constitutional arrangements and a common citizenship and currency. Niue became a British protectorate in 1900 and was annexed by New Zealand in 1901. In 1974, following an act of self-determination under United Nations auspices, the people of Niue adopted a Constitution providing for full self-government in free association with New Zealand, a status distinct from that of full independence.
Population decline is a major concern for Niue. Niue's total population, as enumerated in the 2006 Niue Census, was 1,625 down from around 5,000 in the 1960s and down by 10 percent on the 2001 census. At the time of the 2006 New Zealand census, 22,500 respondents self-identified as Niueans, amny having been born in New Zealand. Employment, educational opportunities and family ties draw Niueans to New Zealand. Maintaining a vital community on the island has become a key objective for the Governments of Niue and New Zealand.
Elections for the 20 member Legislative Assembly are held every three years. The most recent was on 7 May 2011. The Assembly’s members are divided between 14 village constituency members and six Common Roll members.
In May 2011, eight village constituency members were elected. These included Hon Young Vivian (Hakupu), Kupa Matatogia (Lakepa), Dion Taufitu (Toi), Opili Talafasi (Hikutavake), Salilo Tongia (Makefu)), Dalton Tagilagi, Hon Bill Va’akafi Motufoou (Mutulau) and Hon Va’aiga Tukuitonga (Alofi North). Eighteen candidates contested the six Common Roll positions. From a total of 798 voters the results were:
The new Assembly convened on 16 May 2011. After members were sworn in, voting for a new Premier took place. Hon Toke Talagi received 11 votes to 8 for Togia Sioneholo and was elected Premier of Niue for the period 2011 to 2014.
Niue's economy is very fragile. It faces many constraints: limited access to reliable air services, shortages of skilled professionals and entrepreneurial expertise, limited land and poor soil quality. Natural disasters, especially cyclones, have long lasting impact. Niue’s economic difficulties are exacerbated by, and reflected in, the long-term decline of its population.
The Niue Government previously had a 50% joint venture with Auckland’s REEF Group in fish processing and continues to have a joint venture in noni farming with the group. Both businesses were officially opened in October 2004 and have assisted with employment and export earnings.
Private sector subsistence activity accounted for approximately one quarter of GDP in 2009 and subsistence agriculture and fishing remain important. The staple crop, taro, is an important export commodity, finding its main market within Auckland’s Pacific community. Other agricultural commodities produced include small amounts of honey and vanilla.
There is no manufacturing on Niue. The tertiary sector consists of a number of retail outlets, hire firms (mainly cars and bicycles) and accommodation facilities.
The government is the main employer on the island with around 400 employees. The government has a number of trading arms - e.g. a port, a bond store, Niue Telecom, the public works department and the power corporation. In 2009 the Government of Niue implemented the NCT, Niue Consumption Tax.
For all practical purposes Niue conducts its own external relations, including establishing formal diplomatic relations with other states. It participates as a full member of the Pacific Islands Forum, the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), the Pacific Community (SPC), and in other regional and international meetings. It was admitted as a full member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in 1993, the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1994 and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) 1999. Niue is a signatory to a number of international agreements including the Cotonou Agreement, the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Law of the Sea Convention.
Niue is a country “self-governing in free association with New Zealand”. This means:
Since Niue attained self-governing status in 1974 it has retained a close relationship with New Zealand. At the heart of this is the presence of large numbers of Niueans living in New Zealand. New Zealand budget support and development assistance programmes for Niue also demonstrate the multifaceted nature of the relationship.
Niue experienced massive devastation during Cyclone Heta in January 2004. Substantial damage to buildings, vegetation and essential services, particularly on the island’s western side, seriously threatened its ongoing viability. New Zealand was quick to respond with both immediate and longer term assistance. In the months directly after Cyclone Heta a comprehensive reconstruction programme was developed, together with a multi-year infrastructure commitment.
Under the 1974 Niue Constitution Act, New Zealand is responsible for Niue's defence. By convention this responsibility would only be exercised at the request of the Niue Government.
A Defence Adviser based in Wellington is accredited to Niue and surveillance flights of Niue's EEZ are carried out by the Royal New Zealand Air Force on a regular basis. The New Zealand Army held a major exercise, Operation Tropic Twilight, in Niue from May until July 2005 and carried out a number of community support and construction programmes in the wake of Cyclone Heta the previous year.
Another operation was held at the time of the Forum in August 2008 with a team of engineers working on the High School, Police Station and Youth Centre and 50 defence personal looking after catering and security, and providing support for a similar sized contingent of New Zealand Police.
Niueans are New Zealand citizens and have automatic right of entry into New Zealand. Visitors to Niue require a permit. New Zealanders are granted a 30 day visitors permit on arrival
New Zealand is the largest bilateral donor to Niue. Other donors include Australia, China, France and various multilateral organisations. The total bilateral New Zealand Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Niue for 2010/11 is $18.72 million. The main focus of the programme is economic sustainability, principally through development of the tourism sector.
In 2006 the governments of New Zealand, Australia and Niue established the Niue International Trust Fund. New Zealand is the main contributor to the fund. New Zealand is the main contributor to the fund which now contains $41 million. The purpose of the fund is to lessen Niue's dependence on external assistance to meet the demands of its core budget. It is not expected that revenue from the fund will be drawn down until 2014. Until then contributions will be made from time to time by New Zealand, Australia and other parties to continue building the fund's resources.
In 2005 the New Zealand government was closely involved in the negotiation of an Agreement with Air New Zealand for Provision of Air Services to Niue. In November 2007 Air New Zealand advised the Government of Niue that it proposed a commitment to weekly air services for a further three years. The certainty of this air service has been crucial in encouraging longer term business commitments and exploration of tourism potential on Niue.
Reef Shipping provides a cargo service to and from New Zealand every 3 to 4 weeks providing essential goods and fuel to the island.
There is one primary school (including an early childhood education centre) and one high school on Niue and both have student rolls of around 200. Niue follows the New Zealand curriculum and Niue High School has been accredited by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority. Niue has implemented Levels 1 and 2 of the New Zealand National Certificate in Educational Achievement (NCEA), in keeping with the changes made in New Zealand senior secondary assessment, and is moving on to implement Level 3. Year 13 was introduced at High School in 2004. In addition to budget Support in 2012 New Zealand began implementation of a $600k Education Sector Support Programme.
New Zealanders and returning Niueans are the main visitors to the island. Tourist numbers to Niue are not high as the attractions the island offers are different to the normal “South Pacific experience”. Tourist numbers fell from 1400 in 2003 to 723 in 2004 due in large part to the effects of Cyclone Heta but increased to 2,800 in 2005 and 3,000 in 2006. In 2007, visitor numbers increased to 3,500. 4,748 visitors travelled to Niue in 2008; these numbers were bolstered by the Pacific Islands Forum meeting held in Alofi in August. New Zealand and Niue are working closely to build a sustainable tourism sector and visitor numbers increased to 6001 in 2011.
Under the South Pacific Area Regional Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement (SPARTECA) New Zealand permits duty free and unrestricted access to goods from Niue, subject to rules of origin requirements. Most imports into Niue are subject to a 10 percent import levy.
In September 2002 Niue became the seventh country to ratify the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER), enabling the agreement to come into force. The PACER is a framework agreement that sets an outline for future development of trade and economic relations across the whole of the Forum region. It does not contain substantive liberalisation provisions. It envisages a step-by-step process of trade liberalisation, starting with a subsidiary-free trade agreement in goods among Pacific Island countries and foreshadows the future negotiation of Forum-wide reciprocal free trade arrangements (ie an FTA arrangement including Australia and New Zealand). The PACER also includes provisions on trade facilitation and on financial and technical assistance.
Niue is believed to have been settled about a thousand years ago from Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands. Captain Cook was the first European known to have visited the island in 1774. In 1830 well-known missionary John Williams was repulsed. A Samoa-trained Niuean missionary, Peniamina, landed in 1846, converted some of the islanders to Christianity and established the first Christian foothold on the island (London Missionary Society or LMS). The first resident English missionary, George Lawes, arrived in 1861. Missionaries, especially the Lawes brothers, George (1861-72) and Frank (1868-1910), were instrumental in establishing a central government (a fono and an elected king), Western-style health clinics, a legal system and training on the island. Niueans were subject to blackbirding by slave traders in the 1860s.
The Island fono elected Mataio Tuitogia, a chief from Alofi, as the first king of the island. His successor, Fataaiki, petitioned Queen Victoria to take the island under her protection. When Fataaiki died in 1896, King Togia continued to petition Britain for protection. Niue became a British colony in 1900 and was annexed by New Zealand in 1901. Following protestation from Togia and the fono at New Zealand's administration of Niue as part of the Cook Islands group, a separate New Zealand administrative group was established for Niue in 1903.
Niue became self-governing in free association with New Zealand under the Niue Constitution Act (1974).
NIUE CONSTITUTION ACT 1974 Act 42 of 1974 (NZ) - 19 October 1974 Analysis
An Act to make provision for
self-government by the people of Niue, and to provide a constitution for Niue
[29 August 1974]
[The State Services Act 1962 was repealed by the State Sector Act 1988].
The Safe Travel website provides a travel advisory for travellers to Niue [external link].