Alternative History
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Niuē Fekai
Flag of Niue Niue-coa-1983
AnthemKo e Iki he Lagi
LocationNiue
CapitalAlofi
Official languages Vagahau Niue, English
Demonym Niuean
Government Self Governing Associated State of the ANZC
 -  Paku-iti (King) Atapana Siakimotu
 -  Premier Sisilia Talagi
Free Association with the ANZC
Area
 -  Total 260 km2 
100 sq mi 
Population
 -  2021 estimate 2,950 

Tiny and remote, Niue is not one of the more well-known of Earth's countries. It has gained some prominence in recent years thanks to the rise of Oceania in the post-Doomsday world - Niue's membership in the ANZC bloc and more recently the Oceanic Organisation have defined its role on the world stage. Still, the island remains a small, tightly knit, traditional society. It is a constitutional monarchy with close ties to New Zealand.

History[]

Background[]

Niue was settled by Polynesians around the year 900. The people lived in separate clans and villages, governed by the heads of the leading families. The tradition of choosing a patu-iki or king began in a later century, likely due to Tongan cultural influence. The kings were elected from among the family heads by a relatively wide section of the population; Niue therefore claims to have one of the world's oldest democracies.

By the late 19th century, the kingship was marred by violence and competition among the clans. For long stretches, the island simply did without a ruler. King Togia (or Tongia) and the other chiefs asked to be a British protectorate in 1900. In short order, Britain annexed Niue to New Zealand, and New Zealand set up an autonomous government with a separate Commissioner. Being part of the British Empire transformed every aspect of Niuean life. It brought a hospital and English-medium schools; new clothes and new ways of building houses; and an economy that produced things for export.

Big changes came in the decade and a half before the Third World War. In 1969 Niue's council repealed the colonial law governing land ownership, signaling more local control. In 1972 the country got an airport and weekly flights to Auckland. In 1974 Niue obtained very broad autonomy, establishing it as an Associated State within the Realm of New Zealand. So when the missiles came down in 1983, Niue was both an old nation with a millennium of history, and a very young nation with little experience in self-government.

Doomsday and The Aftermath[]

New Zealand was not attacked in 1983, but its economy and political system were shattered. Everything became scarce, but especially fuel. The weekly flight from Niue to Auckland, the island's lifeline, stopped for several weeks after the attacks in the general disruption to air travel. When the flights resumed, they could not run every week due to shortages; finally they stopped altogether in mid-1984. New Zealand's government representative returned home to see his family as soon as he could. He was not replaced. Niue was cut off.

The isolation was never absolute: even in the worst parts of the Aftermath New Zealand made contact every few months and sent some aid, chiefly medical supplies. In 1986 Niue was able to send a delegation, on a New Zealand plane, of course, to Fiji to reaffirm the country's membership in the South Pacific Commission and Forum, which everyone now assumed represented the bulk of the world's surviving nations. At the same time, the leaders from Niue and New Zealand confirmed their commitment to the Free Association that had been established twelve years earlier. But all these agreements were more aspirational than practical. The island now truly had to rely on itself after a century of dependence on the outside.

As the government ran out of resources, mutual aid and decision making came to center on villages and families, not unlike before the colonization. The people planted more food to replace imports from New Zealand. Enough of the traditional economy was still intact that nobody starved. Niue's severe population drop since the 50s, which was due to migration to New Zealand, also probably helped: the population was well below the carrying capacity of the land.

Queen Elizabeth was presumed dead; in those early years, most people across the Pacific assumed that civilization had been destroyed in most other places and that there were few if any survivors in places like Britain. The notion to replace the Queen with a local head of state, and indeed to revive the old institution of the paku-iti, grew with the years. The island's Assembly first discussed it openly in 1988. In 1990, after nearly seven years on their own, the people of Niue elected a king again. Under the new arrangement, he would have a limited term of office, fifteen years. This was seen as a way to prevent the coups and regicides that had characterized the island's nineteenth-century history.

Modern Niue[]

The Commonwealth of Australia and New Zealand formed in 1995, and the new federation brought an assertive new policy to Oceania. The ANZC was committed to restoring and reintegrating the Pacific region. This meant a good deal more aid to small remote nations like Niue. The Patu-iki immediately signed a new Treaty of Free Association, putting Niue into the growing set of Associated States.

Niueans accepted the aid, especially the solar panels that gradually began to restore electric power. But there was a decided ambivalence toward the old colonizers. Many people believed that Western civilization had betrayed Niue, while its traditional culture had saved it. In Pacific regional politics, Niue began to portray itself as an old and proudly independent nation, deferring to its protector less than before.

The late 80s had seen a rise in crime and conflict as the people struggled over scarce resources, but Niue's history since the 90s has been largely peaceful. Premiers transferred power peacefully one to another, despite the occasional fistfight among legislators. Kings and queens were duly elected in 2005 and 2020.

Government[]

Niue's government is based on the Niue Constitution Act, which took effect on 19 October 1974. The change in head of state, in which a locally elected Patu-iki replaced the British monarch and New Zealand Governor-General, amended the Constitution rather than replace it.

Niue has a parliamentary system largely inherited from Britain. The monarch has only minimal constitutional power, though of course he or she has a great deal of informal influence owing to the dignity of the position. The people of Niue have drawn on history and oral tradition to try and re-create the old ceremonies surrounding the kingship as closely as possible.

The actual executive power rests in the Cabinet, which consists of the Premier and three other ministers. The Cabinet are all members of the Fono Ekepule, or Legislative Assembly - though since 1990 it has increasingly been called the Parliament in English. Parliament consists of 14 members elected from the villages plus 6 elected at large.

Niue had long relied on New Zealand for judicial matters. The changes of the 80s forced the islanders to create a new High Court for the island. The updated Treaty of Free Association, signed in 1995, clarifies that the Supreme Court of New Zealand will be Niue's court of last resort (replacing the British Privy Council). Now on the rare occasions when the Supreme Court hears appeals from Niue, it does so in the name and on behalf of the Patu-iki.

Economy[]

Niue

Map of the island

Niue's economy is very small. Much of its economic activity is devoted to subsistence and traditional crafts. The money economy, using the Commonwealth Dollar, revolves around the Government, which has managed the affairs of the new country since 1974. Developing the private sector is an ongoing aspiration.

Most Niuean families grow their own food crops for subsistence and some are sold at the Niue Makete in Alofi, some exported to their families in New Zealand. The Niuean taro is known in Samoa as "talo Niue" and in international markets as pink taro. Niue also exports taro to the New Zealand market.

Niue's population has gone up since 1983. Some of the people who had migrated to New Zealand returned home as economic opportunities in the cities dried up and the old homeland seemed less bad by comparison.

Agriculture[]

Agriculture is crucial to the lifestyle of Niueans. Subsistence agriculture remains the base of the island's economy. Nearly all the households have plantations of taro. Taro is a staple food, and the pink taro now dominant in the taro markets in the ANZC, is considered an intellectual property of Niue. This is one of the natural taro varieties on Niue and has a strong resistance to pests.

Tapioca or cassava, yams and kumaras also grow very well, as do different varieties of bananas. Copra, passionfruit and limes dominated exports in the 1970s; today's much smaller quantity of exports are mainly taro, with a little vanilla and noni. Coconut crab is also part of the food chain; it lives in the forest and coastal areas.

Renewable energy[]

Niue had depended on fossil fuel to generate most of its electricity, and when this ran out it was left without any electric power at all for many years. New Zealand, then the ANZC, and finally the Oceanic Organisation have funded various projects to install solar and wind-powered generators which have gradually restored power to the island. In 2009 Niue passed a milestone when the entire island was connected to the new grid. But the power remains tightly rationed. Only a few places, like the hospital, are connected 24 hours a day.

Tourism[]

Tourism has been identified as one of the three priority economic sectors (the other two are Fisheries and Agriculture) for economic development in Niue. The Government has invested some money into tourism and plans to continue doing so. Many challenges remain, in particular the difficulty of flying to Niue. The only flights go to New Zealand, and they remain sporadic.

Culture[]

Sports and Recreation[]

Rugby is a popular sport played both by men and women. Netball is played only by women. Football is popular as evidenced by the Niue Soccer Tournament.

Media[]

Niue has few media, due to its small size and population. It has two broadcast media outlets, Television Niue and Radio Sunshine, managed and operated by the Broadcasting Corporation of Niue, and one printed newspaper, the Niue Star.

International relations[]

Despite Niue's increased level of independence, its renewed treaty with the ANZC gives the Commonwealth a role in its foreign affairs. The treaty does not give the ANZC outright control, but it serves as a basis of permanent cooperation. In practice, the partnership is very unequal and Niue would never consider going against any major ANZC policy. Since 2015, defense has been the responsibility of the Oceanic Organisation Security Command.

Niue is member of the League of Nations. It joined not long after the League's founding.

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