art & culture
Niuean culture and craft are key components of our 'Taoga Niue' and mean everything to a Niuean.
If possible, try to co-ordinate your visit with one of the many annual village festivals, each a memorable experience of dance, food, sport, traditional arts and fun.
Niuean women are renowned for their artistry and skill with weaving and you will find some exquisite bags and hats for a bargain price at the local show days or at the twice weekly market.
The traditional Vaka or canoe is still used to source food from the ocean. Visit a local Vaka shed to experience traditional canoe making and carving and maybe even try it out yourself.
Tahiono Art Gallery
The Tahiono Gallery has been the face of contemporary art and jewellery produced in Niue since its establishment in 1995. The Tahiono Gallery exhibits the work of all those with an association with Niue, including the works of local resident Mark Cross. The gallery now operates as a business run by Ahi Cross and its main products are the fine art and photographic prints produced by Cross Publishing in Niue. Head into the Commercial Centre and see Ahi at the Gallery Monday - Friday 10am - 4pm.
Hikulagi Sculpture Park
Visit the Hikulagi Sculpture Park, 2 kilometres south of the village of Liku. This park was established in 1997 by several local artists as a platform to create large format public sculptures and in particular work that discusses environmental issues of today with the idea that an island is a microcosm of the world. Created with voluntary labour, donations and the support of Niue Tourism, visitors are also invited to leave their small mark on Niue by adding to the large, found object assemblage entitled "Protean Habitat".
Taoga Niue Museum
The Niue National Museum, currently housed a collection of artefacts salvaged from Cyclone Heta in 2004 including new items acquired from 2005 to date. The former items were on display and some in storage, at Niue's very first National Museum, Huanaki (and Cultural Centre) which opened in 1987 by the NZ Governor General, Sir Paul Reeves. The 10% of artefacts recovered were items on loan from families, repatriated from overseas and acquired in 1985-86. Since the intervention of Cyclone Heta, Niue have yet to fully restore the loss including a permanent and suitable space to showcase its culture and identity.
The new temporary space which opened in April 2013 offered some relief to the restoration process and display of various artefacts including family treasures from WWI, items of cultural and historical significance and spectacular woven wares produced by women and using resources gathered from the environment after Cyclone Heta. One notable collection are the hats selected from a competition held in 2005 and travelled to NZ for display, together with Niue weavers there. Currently on display is the Niue Fakamotu (Niue Constitution) Special Exhibition commemorating the 40th Anniversary since 1974.
Plans are underway to construct a facility to house and display Niue's treasures and for people to learn more about our identity, values and culture.
Village Show Days
If possible, try to coordinate your visit with one of the 14 annual village show-day festivals. Scheduling cannot be precise, but it’s a memorable experience of dance, food, handcrafts & fun.
Niuean women are modest artists whose incredible weaving is renowned for its artistry and skill. You don’t have to buy anything to form wonderful friendships, but if you’re going to relent and purchase something, do it fast. These rare works are not mass-produced for souvenir shops and frequently vanish quickly.
Generally a large ‘umu’ or earth oven is prepared by villagers, and pigs and chicken are cooked alongside root vegetables and other local delicacies of game, fish and fruit – it’s the ideal place to sample a wide variety of fabulous traditional food. For the latest confirmed dates, check the events page or contact the Niue Tourism Visitor Information Centre.
Traditional Niuean Commemorations
A Niuean’s ‘coming of age’ ceremony gives a powerful insight into just how incredibly welcoming and safe Niue is to visitors. Niueans openly embrace the presence of ‘strangers’ even during these traditional events.
The traditional ceremony for a teenage boy is his ‘Haircutting’ ceremony, when the long tail of hair that he has kept since childhood is removed. Guests invited to the concurrent feast each contribute money to a fund that goes to the boy after the celebration costs are paid.
For girls there is a similar ‘Ear Piercing’ ceremony. These gatherings are usually held on a Saturday in private homes.
Both are of immense importance to Niueans, as they mark a child’s ‘coming of age’ – spiritually if not literally, since it can happen at any point of a child’s life. These ceremonies are private in meaning but open to all, and Niueans generally welcome tourists even as on-lookers if they wish to observe.