Niue, a self-governing atoll located in the South Pacific Ocean, is now home to less than 2,000 inhabitants. Following the primary migration by Polynesians from Samoa and settlers from Tonga, Niue was discovered and named by the British navigator, Captain James Cook in 1774. He called it ‘Savage Island’ because of his difficulty in landing on the island, during which he was forced back by the locals several times. The London Missionary Society established Christianity here in 1846, and in the early 1900’s the island was annexed to New Zealand, gaining self-governance and becoming a free association with New Zealand 73 years later. All Niueans are therefore citizens of New Zealand and New Zealand is the island’s biggest source of aid and trading partner. Now, about 20,000 Niueans live overseas and the nation is trying to encourage their return. In 2004, Cyclone Heta devastated Niue, further decreasing the population of the island and encouraging overseas migration.
The documentation of Niue’s history was recorded and passed down orally until the period of the New Zealand governance, where literature started to be compiled about the country.Craft is an integral part of Niuean culture, with weaving, canoe making and wood carving being the most common forms of this. Traditional markets happen weekly, there are 14 annual village festivals and church attendance is also a big part of community; involvement is encouraged to people of any belief because of the expressive singing that happens during mass. Generally, the island landscape and surroundings give way to an economy based on fishing, agriculture and tourism. Visitors to Niue often come to whale-watch, dive or yacht. Niue was also the first territory to have free wireless Internet throughout the country. New Zealand artist and writer, John Pule was born on the island; he wrote The Shark That Ate the Sun and Hiapo: Past and Present in Niuean Barkcloth with Nicholas Thomas.