Niue

Environment:

Niue is an island in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Tonga. It has steep limestone cliffs along the coast, and a central plateau. The highest point is near Mutalau village at 68 meters (223 feet). Niue has the distinction of being one of world’s largest coral islands, commonly referred to as the “Rock of Polynesia” or simply “the Rock”.

In terms of environmental issues, there has been increasing attention paid to conservation practices in order to counter loss of soil fertility from traditional slash and burn agriculture. The international community is working with Niue on renewable energy to reduce dependence on diesel imports. The National Strategic Plan 2009-2013 includes the provision for sustainable use and management of Niue’s natural resources and environment. The official body known as “Environment Niue” is apparently represented by one person, Sauni Tongatule.

In 2002, the Niuean Cabinet passed the Niuean Whale Sanctuary Regulations, which declared all Niuean waters a whale sanctuary. Niue is becoming famous for its whale watching season from July to October, when humpback whales arrive each year Humpback whales arrive to calve and nurse their young. Supposedly, Niue is one of only three places in the world where you are allowed to swim with whales, and in particular listen to whalesongs. Oma Tafua is a Niue NGO dedicated to research and conservation work on humpback whales. Niue Dive organizes whale and dolphin swims.

Culture:

Niue was first settled by Polynesians from Tonga around the 10th century. By the mid 19th century British missionaries had converted most of the population to Christianity. At the onset of the 20th century Niue became a British protectorate, then was annexed by New Zealand. Niue gained autonomy in 1974, but in “free association” with New Zealand, which handles its military and foreign affairs – adding Niue to the list of countries without armed forces. Today, Niueans travel on New Zealand passports, and the country uses the New Zealand dollar as currency. According to writer Paul Rush, in 2012 about two-thirds of the island’s homes were empty, due to emigration to New Zealand.

The Niue Tourism, and Visitor Information Centre in the capital of Alofi, provide comprehensive guides to the Villages of Niue. Taoga Niue serves as the official Department of Niue Cultural Heritage. Apparently, the village of Hakupu is protected as some kind of cultural heritage “park”. The Niue Arts & Culture Festival happens every April.

In 2013, Air New Zealand added a second weekly flight from Auckland, enabling 3 day visits instead of previous 7 day minimum. Peleni’s Travel Agency is the island’s main travel agent, and also runs Peleni’s Guesthouse. Bicycles and other vehicles can be rented from Alofi Rentals. Rocket Systems operates Rocket Internet Cafe in conjunction with Internet Niue, the ISP of the Internet Users Society Niue (IUSN Foundation). Niue Yacht Club provides free SailMail email services for visiting yachties. Keith Vial, Commodore of the boatless Niue Yacht Club, is famous for his Commodore’s Orientation Tour of Niue.

References:

  • Linkages between tourism and agriculture in South Pacific SIDS: the case of Niue by E Singh, 2012
  • The unrealisable dream of sustainable tourism: Niue by C Pforr & D Reiser, 2012
  • ‘The Best Island on the Globe’: constantly constructing tourism on Niue by J Connell, 2007
  • Sustainability of small-scale ecotourism: the case of Niue, South Pacific by HC de Haas, 2002
  • Small-scale tourism and sustainability in Niue by H De Haas & J Cukier, 2000
  • Visitor and host perceptions of tourism on Niue by C Ryan, M Jeffcoat & S Jeffcoat, 1998
  • Tourism development in Niue by S Milne, 1992
  • The impact of tourism on Niue by RJ Skinner, F Rajotte & R Crocombe, 1980