Niue Island

by Dr J Floor Anthoni (2004-2005)
This is the index page to a large section devoted to the island state of Niue, located 2400km north-east of New Zealand and between Tonga on the west, the Cook Islands further east and Samoa up north. Here you'll find information about Niue's distant past, and its history into the twentieth century. It also places Niue in the wider context of the Southern Pacific and what consequences this has on its ecology. Niue is located near the Pacific gyre with clear blue water, and south-easterly trade winds that pound its SE coasts. For visitors, Niue is a small paradise in an empty part oft he world.

An introduction to this large section (on this page, 4 pages)
geography of Niue, location, maps, Exclusive Economic Zone, bathymetry, geology, soil, water, climate (13 pages)
Enlarged three-dimenional map of the bathymetry of Niue's EEZ: niueez4.jpg
Enlarged two-dimensional map of the bathymetry of Niue's EEZ: niueez5.jpg
Topographical map by Seafriends: high-resolution (200KB) medium (40kb) low (17KB)
a brief history and culture of the island and land tenure (6 pages)
Niue is a very interesting place if only one knew what to look for. Here are the places to see and things to do, including descriptions and photos and suggestions for planning your visit (17 pages).
the marine environment of Niue, temperature, productivity, limiting factors, hurricane damage and more (7 pages)
Principles of biodiversity and how these apply to Niue. Selective influences on the progression of life on and around 'the Rock'. Habitat zones and vegetation types, with map. (6 pages)
  • fishes of Niue, a classification tree of the most common fishes, with photos. (13 pages)
  • A kaleidoscope of little miracles found on and around Niue. Life has its unique ways. (15 pages)
    the future of Niue hangs in the balance with so few inhabitants remaining. What are the problems and what options exist to pull out towards a prosperous future? What NOT to do? (6 pages)
    The cyclone has been selective in diminishing the populations of sensitive organisms while on the other hand leaving obvious survivors. Every organism has a story of suvival to tell. Fascinating. (12 pages)
    slide shows
    Slide shows of 'Impressions of Niue' with over 670 images both above and under water. For the full-screen slideshow you must order the latest Seafriends CD but the thumbnail version is available from Internet. Buy your own CD now from the Seafriends home page.
  • the full screen slideshow 2006 in 340 screen-sized images on the Seafriends 2006 CD. 
  • the index page of the 2006 slide show, with 340 new thumbnails above and below water. (4.6 MB, 19p)
  • the full screen slide show 2005 runs as a Java application from your browser or you can use your own slideshow program. See tips.
  • the index page with 330 thumbnail images and informative text. View the seascapes, marine creatures, caves, damage from Heta, attractions and more. Large (4.5MB, 24 pages)
  • the Seafriends autorun page with other slide shows and thumbnail indexes, including Niue.
  • boooks and references (on this page)
    Internet links (on this page)
    A summary of changes to the Niue section. (on this page)
    related chapters
    related chapters on this web site
  • Cyclone Heta wreaks havoc on Niue Island. the oceanography behind the cyclone and the unexpected damage it caused. With links to relevant web sites (6p).
  • Perceived threats to the marine environment. A summary of a United Nations report about how Niueans perceive possible threats to their marine environment (6p).
  • Oceanography/waves: the knowledge about waves, tides and tsunamis
  • Oceanography/productivity: properties of the ocean affecting productivity
  • Soil: how soil is formed, how it works, fertility, degradation and erosion (large section)
  • For suggestions and improvements, please e-mail the author. Read tips for printing.
    -- seafriends home -- sitemap -- Rev 20041030,20041120,20041130,20050927,

    Most people will be blissfully unaware of the little island state of Niue, located three hours flying to the north-east of New Zealand. But in the first week of January 2004, it made shocking news by the destruction caused by one of the worst hurricanes known to mankind. Aid and reconstruction started almost immediately, but after half a year, Niue sank into the back of our minds again. The separate chapter about the havoc wreaked by Cyclone Heta explains why this time the damage exceeded that of all previous cyclones.

    For myself, Niue became an interesting object after having visited NZ's northernmost island group, the Kermadec Islands. Completely isolated and surrounded by very clear water, the sea life there showed signs of stress, similar to those caused by human pressure and pollution. These could be explained from their isolation, but it would be interesting to find yet another place where this hypothesis could be further corroborated (supported). Then came cyclone Heta, which made a visit even more interesting, because where on Earth would one be able to study the destruction caused by such a powerful natural agent on a simple tropical underwater environment in almost pristine waters?

    We prepared our visit as well as we could, but were hampered by a dearth (lack) of information about Niue, which this section hopes to rectify, but even so we need to return for further investigations. Towards December 2005 we hope to include our new experiences and new information into this section.

    In writing this section, we were aware that it could not be very extensive, because people do not have much time for reading, these days. We therefore concentrated on the most important aspects necessary to understand Niue and its predicament. We included our new discoveries although these need to be confirmed by other scientists, and we dared to think about Niue's future. We wanted this section not only to be readable but a real education for those with connections to Niue and for those who contemplate but a short visit. We also wanted to impart a sense of inspiration, awe and adventure for a largely unspoilt place, so close to Auckland's bustling population.

    You will find the chapters richly illustrated by diagrams and new maps which bring together the latest knowledge of this part of the world. We chose to begin with the island's geography and geology as this defines it more than anything else. Here you become familiar with Niue's location on the world map and the shape of the sea around it. We delve into Niue's distant past which is still largely unknown, but some intelligent guesses give you an idea what to expect. Next comes the shape of Niue's shores which consists entirely of limestone. Niue receives a copious amount of rain water but it all sinks down the porous coral into a deep underground water lens. Finally the tides which are small, may still have a decisive influence on Niue's future. This comes back in the chapter about Niue's marine ecology.

    The chapter about Niue's history begins with an introduction that places it in a cultural context. The timeline chronologically dates the important events in Niue's history, but it will need to be updated as far as recent history is concerned. It is important to know about land tenure as this is a decisive factor in Niue's future. Finally the chapter with vital statistics is still glaringly empty, as we hope to find the information to complete it.

    The chapter about a visitor's perspective, showing what can be seen and done, is never fully completed as new interesting things come to hand. Niue invites you to explore the awesome vistas it has to offer. Most of these can be visited in your own time, without a guide. We have included in this chapter the most inviting natural treasures, complete with photographs and a detailed topographical map. Also study the thumbnail images part1 and part2 giving you an idea of what to see under water and on land. Acquire the Seafriends CD for 330 screen-sized images on the 2005 edition and another 340 on the 2006 edition.

    To familiarise visitors with the situation in Niue, we composed a topographical map with roads, tracks and walkways, also showing the main habitats. This map can be downloaded in a medium and a high resolution version as very compact internet files. Visitors will thus be able to study the 'lay of the land' before arrival. As this section develops further, this map will also be enhanced. Please note that this map is not for navigational purposes although we have endeavoured to achieve best precision.

    The chapter about marine ecology talks about the sea's productivity, coral diversity, limiting factors and the survival strategies needed by marine organisms to survive in the sea around Niue. Also the effect of hurricanes is studied and finally an estimate is made of Niue's fishing potential, but this too is waiting for more critical information.

    The chapter about possible futures for Niue challenges you to think outside the square to make Niue self-sustaining while retaining its special character. You need to be familiar with all preceeding chapters in order to appreciate this one.

    An article for publication elsewhere has been included, expanding on the faculties needed for marine life to survive in conditions of hurricanes, isolation and low ocean productivity. Diving with the survivors has many photos illustrating the text.

    Your visit won't be complete without knowing some amazing facts in the chapter Little Miracles.

    To access all the slideshows on the Seafriends CD, visit the autorun page. Here you can also find the slide shows about Niue and their index pages.

    further reading
    Here is a list of references for further reading. The ones marked in blue are held in the Seafriends library; those marked in grey have not been consulted for the production of this web site.

    Internet links
    For more current information on Niue, we refer you to various internet links:

    What's new?
    A chronology of amendments and additions to the Niue section.

    yyyymmdd - description
    20110603 - New fish observations and photos from Hickson Fergusson added to fishtree.
    20051118 - Suggestions by Mrs Myfanwy Borich applied to all chapters.
    20051006 - Suggestions by Mr Falcon Halo applied to all chapters.
    20051004 - Fishtree: a first classification of fishes in Niue, with local names and 90 photos. (17p)
    20050930 - A visitor's perspective of Niue - what to see and do with Niue's natural attractions. (15p)
    20050927 - Topographical map of Niue by Seafriends in high, medium or low resolution. (1p)
    20050926 - Biodiversity of Niue: principles, habitat zoning, terrestrial vegetation, map, diagram. (7p)
    20050923 - Little miracles on and around Niue (15p) and What's new added, this chapter.
    20041130 - A large section about Niue Island, its geography, geology, history, ecology and more (70p). Preview the slide show index (24p 4.5MB)