A Travel Guide about Niue Island in the South Pacific

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Arts, Crafts & Culture of Niue

Niue, due its isolation and contact with other cultures in the past, didn't bring to the present a very strong cultural variety. Besides embracing diverse religions, and being very religious themselves, Niuean's today have basically one cultural event in their life that is very import to them. It is the Hair Cutting Ceremony for boys and the Ear Piercing Ceremony for girls.

These ceremonies are huge and very important for Niuean's and their families. During the Haircutting ceremony, the boy will have his long time uncut hair cut, symbolizing his passage to adulthood. By this time he is something around 13 years old. In exchange, he will receive presents from all guests including cash. The family who promotes the ceremony supply a big banquet to all guests, including, piglets, fish, taro, vegetables and fruits. While in Niue, we were on the road at the moment that one of these ceremonies was happening and we were really impressed with the size of the event. The Ear Piercing ceremony is similar to this one. Just letting you know, you don't need to be invited to one of these ceremonies. Just pop in. Here are some photos of the Hair cutting ceremony....

The house of the ceremony and guests Succulent piglets waiting to be cooked in the earth oven -"Umu".
Taro plants Bananas

  Nothing more normal and natural than burring the deceased in the family's home backyard or around the Church. You will see hundreds of graves both sides of the road, all of them, decorated with fresh and beautiful flowers. There are many different styles of graves. Some have pedestals, plates, and even a roof to protect the area from the elements. One of the most notorious graves in Niue is the one that belongs to Nukai Peniamina, the person who started Christianity in Niue and one of the most important personalities of Niue's history. There is a national day to honour this man.

 Crafts in Niue are not very diverse due to the isolation of Niue along the years and lack of outside influences. What Niuean's do in terms of crafts is absolutely beautiful and very well done.  Woven works such as baskets and other objects are made by hand basically from Pandanus in complicated designs, and you may find some in the market or ask at the tourist office where you can find some to buy. If you wish, also at the tourist Information, they can arrange classes for you to learn how to do it. They produce a large wall disk that fits nicely and very elegantly on any wall. There is also a necklace made with tiny yellow shells and seeds as beads, but unfortunately the necklace was confiscated by Australian Quarantine. The basket we received as a gift is amazing and we never tire of looking at it. It always makes us think about how long it took to weave. (large photo on the top of this page.

In the arts of Painting, Mark Cross, a New Zealand artist who lives in Niue has one of the best works we've seen in the Pacific. Some of his works are for sale in his gallery in Niue or at his website and his wife does beautiful woven works.

Note 1: If possible, while at the airport, in customs get a declaration of the material you're bringing back home. We had the necklace confiscated because neither I, neither the quarantine officer knew the name of the ball shaped seed in the necklace. ( They want the common name AND scientific name - the officer told me if I had the name, he could allow it to enter Australia). The necklaces were confiscated and we had to pay AU$ 30 for the fumigation of the basket and disk.

Note 2: We had no problem entering New Zealand with the products above mentioned.




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