Alofi, the capital city of Niue, has a population of about 600, divided between two villages. Alofi North and Alofi South, where the government headquarters are located. The island covers only 260 square kilometres. Alofi is located at the centre of Alofi Bay on the west coast of the island, close to the only break in the coral reef that surrounds Niue. Alofi’s tropical rainforest climate is virtually year-round with no discernable dry season and the average temperatures remain relatively constant throughout the year at 25 Celsius.
Niue, known as the “Rock of Polynesia”, is 1,500 miles or 2,400 kilometres northeast of New Zealand in a triangle between Tonga, the Samoa’s and the Cook Islands and is one of the world’s largest coral islands. Niue is self governing but also in free association with New Zealand, and lacks full sovereignty. Queen Elizabeth II is Niue’s head of state. Most diplomatic relations are conducted by New Zealand on Niue’s behalf. Captain James Cook spotted the island in 1774, but failed to land after three attempts. The Polynesian inhabitant’s refused him permission and he named the island “Savage Island”, a name that remained in use for a couple of centuries until its original name Niu e, translated as “behold the coconut”, regained use. The island was a British protectorate for a time, but that ended in 1901 when New Zealand annexed the island. Independence in the form of self-government by granted by the New Zealand parliament with the 1974 constitution.
The war memorial and the Royal Tombs are just south of the pier along the waterfront. The Royal Tombs mark the final resting site for two Niue kings – Mataio Tuitonga 1876-87) and Fataaiki (1888-1896). Niue’s last king, King Togia died in 1917 and is buried at the church in Tuapa, north of Alofi. Togia ceded his kingdom to Britain April 21, 1900, a few days after the US annexed Eastern Samoa. What is very interesting is that the deceased relatives of families are buried on the family property, usually in the front gardens.
The people are very friendly, and it’s hot as we walk around. It’s a very small community, but the government gives every child a laptop computer and there is free wireless internet on the island. You can image the hoards of people from the ship taking advantage of this.
Craft sales provide much of the local income, .e.g. the necklaces and earing combine seeds and tiny shells into wonder designs. Pat bought a wonderful necklace and ear rings from this lady.
There’s little to no work on the island so a lot of young people move away to New Zealand, they do send money home, however as generations develop new lives elsewhere in the world the money does dry up and this is what causes the homes to become derelict and vacant. A lonely existence and a very beautiful island.
The islanders are working to develop a tourism trade, there are lots of hiking trails as well as tidal pools, e.g. those in the Limu area. Blow holes and a generally rugged coastline provide for beautiful scenes. The waters are home to colourful fish as well as poisonous water snakes. The snakes are thankfully not aggressive so if you leave them alone, they leave you alone.