Travel
Niue

NIUE - An Island Paradise Unspoilt and Untouched

In October 2006 ZORA FEILO-MAKAPA returned to Niue, her parents’ island of birth, for the first time in decades. It proved to be an inspirational journey in so many ways.

My trip to Niue Island last year was significant for two reasons. I had not been home for many years. And I took my two sons and a niece, all New Zealand-born and raised Niueans who had never been there before.
As the plane landed at Hanan International Airport at 1.30am I felt both excitement and anticipation. As I stepped off the plane I inhaled the freshness and sense of freedom in the air and thanked Tagaloa (Polynesian God), who guided and welcomed us home safely.
In daylight, one may be initially disappointed at not seeing long swept island beaches with white sands and palm trees. But Niue is not that type of island. As one of the largest raised coral atoll in the world, it has a distinctive beauty which grows on you. It is well known for its unspoilt environment and pristine, clear waters.
It has many sheltered rocky coves, beautiful clear blue reef pools, adventurous caves, a tropical forest with many taro and coconut plantations. Shopping is not usually among the priorities when travelling to Niue, but if you insist, you can do so at the capital in the main town of Alofi where you will find shops amongst delightful cafes, restaurants, car rental shops, accommodation and dive adventures, all accompanied with the friendly Niuean cheer and smiles from the locals.

Ebeaune Naepi with Zethan and Allexander Makapa and baby Jonti HalatutavahaEarly European history, however, records a different kind of Niue. Captain Cook landed on Niue in June 1774 and faced a hostile reception by ferocious looking Niuean warriors. They were protecting their land and they attacked Cook and his crew with stones. Some Niueans believe this to be taken as a healthy challenge. The Captain was not impressed. He had planned to call it Prince Frederick Island after the late Prince of Wales, who was the eldest son of King George II. Instead, Cook named it Savage Island, a term that is still heard today.
For my children and I, our visit to Niue was a wonderful homecoming experience. We reclaimed our identity as Niue people. To be on the land of our forefathers so rich in history was exciting. We shopped at Alofi, swam at Utuko, Matapa Chasm and Avatele Beach, ate at the Washaway Cafe, drove around the island, attended church, were entertained at the Matavai Resort, watched the vaka races, went out sailing and walked the reefs.

Niue touched our hearts. It was a humbling experience. I felt creatively inspired. I took lots of photos, which I’ve always enjoyed, then felt the need to write. I returned to New Zealand and saw the SPASIFIK/Huia Short Story competition in SPASIFIK Magazine. That provided me the incentive and focus to follow up on the inspiration I had gained from Niue.
It was satisfying to have completed the task. Being chosen as one of the five winners was incredible.
Thank you SPASIFIK for letting me share this story with you all.

 

Fakaue lahi nonofoa moe monuina
- thank you to Niue.

• For more information on Niue go to www.niueisland.com