A Brief History of
Most of the inhabitants of Niue descend from settlers from Tonga, Samoa and Fiji, who arrived between AD 600-1000, developing their own particular culture. The first Europeans reached Niue in the wake of Captain Cook’s expedition to the region in 1774. Administered by the London Missionary Society from 1846, it became a British Protectorate in 1900. The island was then formally annexed to New Zealand in 1901, as part of the Cook Islands. In October 1974, Niue was granted ‘self-government in free association with New Zealand’, making it the smallest self-governing state with that status. This also allows Niueans to retain New Zealand citizenship while maintaining self-government in their own country.
Politics on the island have only become organised in the last few years. The only formal political party is the Niue People’s Action Party (NPAP), which has come to dominate politics on the island since its formation in 1987. Robert Rex, who was not a party member, stayed in office for ten years, latterly with the support of NPAP members. Rex died in December 1992 and was replaced by Mititaigimimene Young Vivian, who held the office until the next legislative election held in February 1993. After these, Frank Lui was elected premier to replace Vivian. With a narrow majority of just two seats, the Lui government proved somewhat unstable during its term of office but survived until February 1996, when it was re-elected. The NPAP has remained in control of the government ever since – Sani Lakatani took over the premiership following the 1999 election and the veteran Young Vivian took over once again, at the most recent poll in April 2002.