Niue’s history falls into four defined periods: pre-Christianity, Christianity, the Colonial era and self government. The documentation of Niue’s history was primarily oral and passed down through the generations. It has only been since the period of New Zealand governance that a great deal of literature has been compiled on Niue’s history.
Niue is believed to have been inhabited for over a thousand years. Oral tradition and legends speak of the first settlement by Huanaki and Fao, together with the Fire Gods from Fonuagalo, the Hidden Land. Some authorities believe that the island was settled during two principal migrations, one from Samoa and one from Tonga with a smaller migration from Pukapuka in the Cook Islands.
In 1774, the English navigator Captain James Cook sighted Niue but was refused landing by the locals on three different attempts. He then named Niue ‘Savage Island’. Missionaries from the LMS (London Missionary Society) established Christianity in 1846. Niue chiefs gained British Protectorate status in 1900, and in 1901 Niue was annexed to New Zealand. In 1974 Niue gained self-government in free association with New Zealand and government to this day has followed a Westminster-style rule with a 20 member assembly. The Premier is selected by the House and the Premier then selects 3 other members for Cabinet posts.