Niue Premier raises questions on 39th Constitution Day
Niue Premier raises questions on 39th Constitution Day.
The Premier of Niue, Toke Talagi has raised questions over the meaning of its status as a Realm country, during the country's 39th Constitution Day celebrations yesterday.
Niue became self-governing in free association with New Zealand in 1974, and along with the Cook Islands, Tokelau, and the Ross Dependency, form part of the wider Realm of New Zealand.
Beverley Tse was in Niue and filed this report:
During the formal ceremony at the Fale Fono in Alofi, both the New Zealand and Niuean flags were raised to mark the unique bilateral relationship between the two nations. The event was attended by the New Zealand Governor General, Lieutenant General Sir Jerry Mateparae, who says it is important people reflect on the connections between Niue and New Zealand. He says based on what he has seen and heard, the relationship is a good one in all dimensions.
JERRY MATEPARAE: Certainly there's a very positive atmosphere here about what's happening in Niue. And I think there's that recognition that there is a special relationship between our two countries and it's how do we continue to enhance what we've got?
During the flag raising ceremony, the Premier of Niue said he cannot fully understand and appreciate what it means for the country to be a member of the Realm of New Zealand. Toke Talagi says for a long time, Niue has been treated as a donor recipient and says it is important for Niueans to think about what its relationship with New Zealand means.
TOKE TALAGI: What I think we should do is determine what citizenship actually means because we are not certain at the present moment. We think there is a definition but what we need to do is sit down with the New Zealand government and talk to them, as well as the other Realm countries to determine whether that's what we want. At the same time we've got to be clear about what we ourselves want.
But the Premier says what is clear, is some positive results from Niue's relationship with New Zealand.
TOKE TALAGI: We've got excellent infrastructure. We've got good water, we've got good power. We've got good roads, we've got good telecommunications.That has all been achieved with our funding from New Zealand. That is an extremely important component of what we're trying to do to encourage and develop tourism at the present moment.
The Niuean High Commissioner to New Zealand, O'Love Jacobsen, says the two nations share a special relationship that allows Niuean people to make key decisions for themselves.
O'LOVE JACOBSEN: We can't do without that but we are very, very grateful that we are indeed a part of New Zealand and will remain to do so whilst our population is still small.
Employment, educational opportunities and family ties have attracted many Niueans to New Zealand. In the 2006 New Zealand Census, 22,500 people identified themselves as Niueans. At the same time, the Niue Census recorded a population of just over 1,600, down from about 5000 in the 1960s. A Year 13 student at Niue High School, JinNam Hopotoa, says New Zealand has provided much support in education and health services but he says there is a need to help Niueans who are wanting to return from New Zealand.
JINNAM HOPOTOA: It'll be good if New Zealand could assist with providing the island with employment services. That's one of the things that returning citizens, Niuean citizens who live in New Zealand, returning back to the island, they would like to seek jobs that can... That are well suited to... like we have in New Zealand.
JinNam Hopotoa says he would also like New Zealand's help with increasing wages in Niue.
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