On Niue, each new year begins with a week of prayer and the tradition of going around the island, known as takai. This week begins not long after a traditional faikai Christmas dinner of fish chunks marinated in coconut cream, with side dishes of coconut bread and taro. Many of the finest cooks and artisans from all 14 island villages show off their latest creations at the annual village show days. The traditional coming-of-age ear-piercing and hair-cutting ceremonies for girls and boys, respectively, are usually invitation-only events.
Prayer and Takai Week
Niue’s first festival of the year combines solemn prayers with lively ‘drive bys’ where people drive around in brightly-decorated vehicles. In fact, the word takai means ‘going around’ in English. Each day of this festival during the first week of January is filled with sporting competitions, dancing, and daily church services. Many motorists toss sweets to children while driving the full 40 miles around Niue’s main ring road. All government offices are closed during this island-wide holiday.
Each February 6, the people of Niue observe this New Zealand national holiday on the anniversary of the date the country’s founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi, was signed in 1840. Like their counterparts in New Zealand, Niueans celebrate this special day with speeches, concerts, and relaxation on the beach. Reggae music is sometimes played in honor of Bob Marley, whose birthday also falls on this date.
Niue Arts and Culture Festival
Every other April, Niue hosts this fascinating arts and culture festival to celebrate the island’s culture. Many Niueans who live abroad flock back to their homeland to reconnect with their families and loved ones. This festival attracts many of the island’s finest dancers, musicians, visual artists, photographers, and artisans from home and abroad alike.
Like their counterparts in Australia, New Zealand, and many other South Pacific islands, the people of Niue observe this April 25 holiday honoring military veterans. The island’s first Anzac Day in 1947 was also the same day the village of Mutalau unveiled its war memorial commemorating the villagers who served in the WWI Niue Contingent. This day typically includes a church service, and umu kai feast, and storytelling sessions.
Each second Sunday in May, the people of Niue celebrate this holiday in tandem with Mother’s Day. On White Sunday, children sing songs, perform skits, and give church sermons while dressed in new white clothing. A feast of chicken, taro, and sweets follows. This holiday is also celebrated in Samoa and Tonga.
This holiday, known as aho he maama in Niuean, falls on the first Monday after the island’s Constitution Day, which falls on October 19. This is the day Niue adopted the constitution which granted the island its current autonomous, self-governing territory status. Peniamina Day, on the other hand, is named after and celebrated in honor of the Niue-born and Samoa-trained pastor who successfully brought Christianity to the island.