Niue country brief
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.
The Head of State is HM Queen Elizabeth II, represented by the Governor-General of New Zealand.
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 7 May 2011 for eight of the 14 village based constituencies and the six common roll seats. Elections were not required for the six other village seats, because only one candidate nominated in each. The Niue Assembly re-elected Toke Talagi as Premier on 16 May 2011. He has been in office since 2008.
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 play a fundamental role in supplementing 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 to successive governments. At the time of the 2006 Census, the population was 1,625 and has since decreased further to 1446 in 2011. Over 20,000 Niueans currently live in New Zealand and about 500 live in Australia.
The former Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs Richard Marles visited Niue in December 2010. Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer David Bradbury visited Niue in October 2010 to attend the Forum Economic Ministers Meeting. Premier Talagi attended the Pacific Islands Forum in Cairns in August 2009.
Australia and Niue enjoy a friendly relationship based on shared membership of Pacific regional organisations.
Australia has also funded the design and construction of a new $4 million purpose-built primary school and early childhood centre in Niue. The building will also act as a cyclone shelter for the local population, helping to protect the school and local population from cyclones and the adverse effects of climate change. The Government of New Zealand has agreed to manage the construction of the school on Australia’s behalf through a delegated cooperation arrangement.
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 Niue Trust Fund. 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.
Bilateral economic and trade relationship
In 2012, Australian merchandise exports to Niue totalled $132 000 (principally iron and steel produces and alcoholic beverages). In the same period, imports from Niue to Australia totalled $10 000 (principally electrical machinery and parts).
Updated January 2014