Niue Island

Riyadh Island

Trustworthy, up-to-date news from the small South Sea island of Niue. Is anybody home? Isle of Niue in the East Coast struck by the explosion

ALOFI, Niue (AP) - Once upon a time there was a college, but there are no more of them. This lonesome edifice on this secluded island in the Far East now contains only a punchbag stretched by someone from the class rafter and a piece of paper scribbled on the blackboard in Niuean: "While much of the planet is concerned about how it will be received by the fast expanding population, some dilemmas are facing in the Pacific: how to stop everyone from migrating.

Demographic depopulation on Niue, a luxuriant Baltimore sized reef atrocity, was constant and inexorable. More than 5,000 persons lived here in the 60s, today it is less than 1,600. About fifteen time as many Niueans, about 24,000, now reside on the other side of the Atlantic in New Zealand, 2,400 kilometres (1,500 miles) away.

When Speedo Hetutu, 54, visited the old synagogue in the Avatele city, she was given up and later used for training. In the past there were six elementary colleges on the island, today there is only one. There are other houses where work, prayer or life used to take place, which are now empty and have fallen into decay.

"Hetutu says they wanted to leave in search of a better world." "They' re still looking. "Other Pacific Isles are facing similar battles. According to CIA figures, the Cook Islands' populations are shrinking by 3 per cent per year, a figure second only to war-torn Syria. Also Tokelau and American Samoa lose considerable amounts of man.

In the archipelago, such as Samoa and Tonga, where the populations are stable, even those who leave the Outlands move to the capitals where they can find better employment, training and healthcare. Because of its connections to New Zealand, the Niue expedition was particularly urgent. It is self-governed, but in free contact with its more prosperous neighbour to the South, and the Niueans are New Zealanders.

Whilst this has enticed away tens of thousand of young Niueans, it has also been paying the bill for those who have not. The New Zealand administration has contributed to the establishment of a $44 million trustee foundation and provides about $10,000 per capita of assistance annually to finance the work of the island's governments, which account for the majority of work.

Several Niueans who live abroad return transfers. A lot of those who were gone had gates that were just too big for the island. A South Pacific specialist at Sydney University, Professor John Connell remembers a conversation with a nursing student specialising in newborn nursing who had come back for her father's burial.

"It made no sense that she was in Niue," says Connell. "Niueans see New Zealand as a country full of opportunities, says the priest, saying that in the early years he only served in Niuean until he realised that many were having difficulties with him. Verbal tradition, which was once powerful on the island, threatens to disappear, he says.

" But Niue has a feeling of openness, a faith that the exit could be stopped at last. He' s working in a house near the old Avatele Academy where the cocks never stop cooing. Says he thinks the plan encourages folks to remain. Though she went to high schools in New Zealand, Hekau says she always liked the laid-back Niue way of life and thought it was the best place to start a big one.

Nowadays, she says, she uses a computer to keep in contact with her kids, most of whom are living on the island. Niue was the first land in 2003 to provide free Wi-Fi to all its inhabitants, one of several technology improvements that the people of the island say are more easily isolated.

As New Zealand reduces its assistance to Niue, it argues that its contribution to the Trusteeship Funds and its investment in the tourist industry are contributing to making the state more independent. That year, most employees of the administration of Nijuean were cut to four working nights with equal wages. Governments say it will help to increase people's spending hours in their churches, while opponents say it was because the budgets were cut and there was no funding for increases that had been made.

Toke Talagi is optimistic about the state' s outlook. "And I know that some folks are inclined to look at us and say, "Well, you're not viable," he says. "Our job at the present time is to use the tourist industry to provide possibilities for Niue to be seen by New Zealand and the rest of the Niue population as a place where they can return and live," he says.

According to the Niue administration, about 7,000 persons came to the island last year, twice as many as six years ago. This year Air New Zealand is offering additional Southern Hemisphere services during the summer time. Vanessa Marsh, tourism director, says Niue is attracting different groups from weddings to amateur broadcasters who find that insulation helps reduce signalling disturbances.

Connel is sceptical about the tourist industry's ability to turn around Niue's demographic decline. It says that the island's raised, cliffy coast means that it is lacking the sand shores that many vacationers are looking for. Says that the visitors he encountered there tend to be sailors around the globe, robust backpacker travellers, or those trying to cut off 150 lands from their "bucket lists.

" Former New Zealand business man and political figure Mark Blumsky, who heads several tourism-related companies, is more upbeat. After he married a lady he had gotten to know during a mission there, he settled there. If the people of an island just packed and left, it would be extraordinary, but not unequal.

In 1930 Connell said that one of the more popular cases was St Kilda off the western shore of Scotland, where the last 36 island inhabitants asked for eviction to the Scotch continent. It finds that there are instances of places that, despite forecasts that they have not managed to survive, include the Pitcairn Islands, where about 50 inhabitants live.

"It' way too soon to give Niue away," says Connell.

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