Niue is self-governing with free association with New Zealand. On the outside, this means Niue people are New Zealand citizens. On the inside, this actually means that many New Zealand laws can work to limit the indigenous Niueans.
New Zealand tends to speak on behalf of Niue in the International stage. However, the main focus of Pasifika nations, like Niue don’t always match that of New Zealand. For example, stop bringing cars to us in the hope that we will buy them. What are we supposed to do with the ones that no longer work?
Almost 90% of Niueans live in New Zealand Supporting a family on such a small island is nearly impossible. The island is largely populated by very young people, our elderly, and only some of our in-between- aged people. Where are they? You will find them working in Australia and New Zealand.
Tell us that: Niue was settled by Samoa in 900 AD Invaded by Tonga in 1600 AD Had Samoan and Tongan kinship titles for kings introduced in 1700 AD First met up with Captain Cook in 1774
Niue, then known as Motu tu taha, Nuku tu taha, and Oneonepata, was a place of exile. Descendants of royal families across the Pacific, were sent to Niue to live and exist. There is the story of the people of Tamakautoga, being descendant from a son of one King of Tonga who refused to participate in certain rituals. Rather than kill his son, he was exiled to Niue with a group of people.
Niue was approached by Captain Cook Tupaia, our great Polynesian navigator and tohunga was not only able to name the island, he called is Oneonepata after the sandy beach of Avatele, but directed Cook to that shore. Of course, Cook misunderstood the war- dance and promptly turned away and named the place ‘Savage Island.’
Haircutting Ear piercing Sega tupe Kaloama Takai
The ceremony is when the long hair of a boy is cut. Donations of money are given in exchange for cutting the boy’s hair. Today the hair cutting symbolises › A boy reaching manhood › The putting away of childish ways › A new beginning
Blackbirding is a term to describe the kidnapping of people to work as slaves Blackbirding was a known throughout the pacific. Spanish slave traders were known to kidnap young men for work in the Peru gold mines. You can google that term and find that I am not wrong.
Knowing boys were targeted, mothers allowed the hair of their sons and daughters to grow. Thereby making it difficult to tell who was who and which was which. When it was clear the boy was becoming a man, could fight and fend for themselves, their hair was cut. The haircutting ceremony honours that history along with the lives of the young men who will never return.
Ear-piercing could be seen as a coming- of-age ceremony, but we prefer girls have their ears pierced at a young age. It is an operation which entails the piercing of the ear-lobe with the thorn from the branch of a lime tree. It is usually a very private, invitation only, affair. Don’t believe people when they say it wont matter.
In all likelihood, this tradition comes from Samoa and Tonga. It suggests beauty and wealth, but most importantly it is about obeying parents and respecting culture.
The sega tupe is part of the celebration of marriage between a couple It is when the women of the families of the couple unite Bedspreads, embroidery, tapa cloth, fine mats, and expensive material is laid out and over the couple while the women of both families take turns to offer advice for both the bride and groom Each piece of advice is also given with a gift of money
Part of this tradition is about joining families, BUT We also use this as an opportunity to get out of the way any ‘bad business’. For example: a mother who knows her son is quick to give up, might ask the bride to remember to be patient, and remind her son to man-up. It is funny and fun, light-hearted, and comforting. Some warnings are important.
This is kili-moana season. It is when a tapu is placed on the shoreline and immediate waters of the island to protect the small fish It is spawning season between November and January. Swimming and fishing on the shoreline is not allowed as it will disturb and scare off the small fish.
To make sure there are fish enough to catch and to carry on, a tapu is placed on the shoreline to protect the young fish Deep sea fishing is still permitted Swimming can be done in the swimming holes around the island, mainly Talava. Placing a tapu on the shore is about protecting our future
The Takai happens at the end of prayer week which happens in the week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day After a week of early starts with prayer in each village, along with a week long of the whole village making the place look beautiful, the people dress up and use decorations made from plants to cover their vehicles before setting off on a trip together in a convoy around the whole island, with a stop in the Huvalu for lunch then, ending in dinner together out under the stars. Lollies are thrown out to the children of the villages.
With Christianity, Niueans learnt to ‘put away the old ways,’ as my mum said. But, the Takai is when we remember the old ways and return to our home village. There we make it beautiful by clearing away any debris, and we make decorations in the old fashion. As a whole island we travel to each village to wish everyone a Happy New Year and to acknowledge our culture of the past.