Children get on to a school bus in Hakupu, Niue

Niue, the Rock of Polynesia

Featured image: Children get on to a school bus in Hakupu, Niue. Photo by Rennie Atfield-Douglas.

After he struggled to come on to shore, Captain James Cook famously gave Niue the unwanted name of Savage Island. Luckily, this name didn’t stick.

Niue, or the Rock of Polynesia – as it is affectionately known – is one of the largest coral atolls in the world. With a population of approximately 1,700 people, it is the perfect place for a holiday escape. The tranquility, the quiet and the nature are a real taonga or treasure for Niue. Niue is also the world’s first country to become a Dark Sky Place.

Sunrise in Hakapu, NiueImage: Sunrise in Hakupu, Niue. Photo by Rennie Atfield-Douglas.

The waters that surround Niue are deep and this makes for incredible fishing. Niue has some of the best fishing spots in the world and is also a place where you can see whales from the shore.

Niue is a country in its own right but has a continuing relationship with New Zealand. It is a part of the New Zealand realm and is self-governing in free-association with New Zealand. All Niue people born on the island are New Zealand citizens, in line with the Niue Constitution Act 1974.

Matapa Chasm, HikutavakeImage: Matapa Chasm, Niue. Photo by Rennie Atfield-Douglas.

The Niue diaspora is large, with over 30,000 people in New Zealand who identify as tagata Niue. New Zealand citizenship meant that many Niue families have been in New Zealand since the 1950s. Like many other Polynesian people, Niue people settled initially around the fringes of the Auckland CBD in suburbs such as Ponsonby, Grey Lynn and Parnell. Today there are large communities of Niue people in Mangere, Otara, Henderson and Manurewa to name a few.

Hakapu ChurchImage: Hakapu Church, Niue. Photo by Rennie Atfield-Douglas.

The number of speakers of vagahau Niue are decreasing, with less than 10% of youth who identify as Niue able to converse in vagahau Niue, and vagahau Niue is listed as an endangered language by UNESCO. Despite the decline, groups such as Niue Youth Network and the Vagahau Niue Trust continue to work hard to provide opportunities for Niue youth in New Zealand to connect to their motu ko Niue.

Celebrate vagahau Niue this Niue Language Week

Follow along with the University of Auckland Library on Facebook from Sunday 18 October to Saturday 24 October as we share a series of videos demonstrating basic Niuean phrases in context, produced by the Niue Youth Network and Niue Tertiary Students Association.

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Explore Niuean research in our collections

For her masters thesis Vaiolesi Passells explored Niuean legends and oral narratives to understand how traditional knowledge might provide resilience and a ‘constant’ in an ever-changing world, and to fakaalofa to her children and mokopuna about where they too come from.

Read Vaiolesi’s thesis

Susan Feogoaki Smith looked at the implications of incorporating Pasifika visual languages and cultures into the Early Childhood Education curriculum using Pasifika methodologies and cultural frameworks in her masters thesis. For example, the notion of ‘Aga fakaNiue’ was introduced in the study to help describe and locate the researcher.

Read Susan’s thesis

Tau matakainaga Niue, monuina e faahi tapu he vagahau Niue.

Niue ki mua.

Aue tulou.

Rennie Atfield-Douglas, Head of South Auckland Campus

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