Flag of Niue

Niue country brief

Overview

The island of Niue is located in Polynesia, east of Tonga and northeast of New Zealand. Niue is a self-governing state in free association with New Zealand, an arrangement dating from October 1974. Niueans are New Zealand citizens with the right of free access to New Zealand, where approximately 90 per cent of Niue’s population lives. Niue’s resident population is about 1500.

Political overview

The Head of State is HM Queen Elizabeth II, represented by the Governor-General of New Zealand.

System of Government

Niue's parliament is the Niue Assembly and consists of 20 members (14 constituency or ‘village’ seats, and six ‘common roll’ seats) elected every three years by universal suffrage. The 20 members elect a Premier, who then selects three cabinet ministers. Assembly members currently all serve as independents. The members appoint a Speaker from outside their ranks.

The most recent Niue general election was held on 12 April 2014. Candidates supportive of Premier Talagi’s government won 12 of the 20 seats and the Niue Assembly re-elected him as Premier. He has been in office since 2008.

Bilateral relations

Australia and Niue established diplomatic relations on 27 February 2013. Australia’s High Commissioner to New Zealand is accredited to Niue. Australia and Niue enjoy a friendly relationship based on shared membership of Pacific regional organisations and a modest aid program.

People to people links

Australia is helping Niue build a skilled workforce by providing access to awards to individuals to further their education and professional development.

The Australia Awards provide opportunities for Niueans to undertake short-term study and professional development in Australia. The awards enable individuals to gain the skills and knowledge needed to contribute to their country’s development.

Development assistance

On 25 October 2006, Australia, Niue and New Zealand became signatories to the Niue International Trust Fund (NITF) Deed (the Deed). Signature of the Deed set in place the formal legal arrangements required for the long-term operation of the NITF. The aim of the NITF is to provide a long-term, dependable revenue stream for the Government of Niue, to encourage self-reliance and decrease dependency on official development assistance.

Since 2004, Australia has contributed approximately $7.5 million to the Trust Fund, the capital of which is now approximately NZ$50 million. From 2014 Niue will be able to access interest earned from the capital as revenue. The Trust Fund is overseen by a by a Board of Directors, on which Australia and New Zealand are represented.

Australia has also funded the design and construction of a new purpose-built primary school and early childhood centre in Niue to replace the existing school, which was severely damaged by Cyclone Heta in 2004. The school will significantly improve the quality of education in Niue, and will also function as a shelter for the local community in extreme weather events. The Government of New Zealand has agreed to manage the construction of the school on Australia’s behalf through a delegated cooperation arrangement.

In 2014 we will continue to work with Niue and New Zealand on the construction of the primary school and early childhood education centre. Through our new delegated cooperation arrangement with New Zealand, signed in June 2014, and valued at up to $1.4 million in 2014-15, we will focus on education and on improving waste management to help support Niue’s growing tourism sector.

Economic overview

The economic challenges Niue faces are common to other small island states within the region. Geographic isolation, limited natural resources and a small population hamper economic development. Cyclones occasionally devastate the island's infrastructure, including housing and tourist facilities.

Under the terms of the constitutional agreement between the two countries, New Zealand provides substantial economic and administrative assistance to Niue. Economic assistance is provided in the form of both direct budget support and project-related aid.

Fishing licences and the international lease of Niue's unique four-digit telephone numbers are important income earners for the country. Remittances from Niueans living abroad supplement the income of island families.

The tourism industry is a small, but potentially important, sector in the economy. Noni-juice production also provides ongoing employment opportunities.

Niue's declining population has been a concern of successive governments. At the time of the 2006 Census, the population was 1,625 and has decreased to 1446 in 2011. Over 20,000 Niueans currently live in New Zealand and about 500 live in Australia.

Trade and investment

Australian merchandise exports to Niue at the end of 2013 totalled $440 000 (principally electronic integrated circuits).

High level visits

August 2014: High Commissioner to Wellington Michael Potts visited Niue to present his credentials.

December 2010: Then Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, the Hon. Richard Marles visited Niue.

August 2009: Premier Talagi attended the Pacific Islands Forum in Cairns.