Niue Fakahoamotu Nukutuluea Motutefua Nukututaha Critical Discussions of Niue History in and beyond Aotearoa New Zealand

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Jessica Pasisi
Ioane Aleke Fa'avae
Zoë Catherine Lavatangaloa Henry
Rennie Atfield-Douglas
Toliain Makaola
Birtha Lisimoni Togahai
Zora Feilo
Asetoa Sam Pilisi


Bringing together Niue scholars, creatives and thinkers from various disciplines and fields, this article is the culmination of two conference roundtables, a history panel, and multiple ongoing discussions about critically engaging with and contributing to Niue knowledge in academia. From different standpoints we each explore the vastness of Niue history through lenses that centre, privilege and uphold aga fakaNiue (Niue lifestyle, ways, culture) through cultural values and principles, tāoga (that which is treasured or prized), metaphor and approaches. Engaging in these spaces as tau tagata Niue (Niue people) is inevitably marked by Niue’s connections to Aotearoa and the wider Pacific. While our work may challenge dominant narratives by non-Niue people, we use this space to ask questions that are important to us and to the Niue communities we serve. What counts as Niue history? As tagata Niue how do we see ourselves in our academic and creative work? Who does Niue knowledge and history belong to? How do we make the places where Niue knowledge exists more accessible to the growing Niue populations in and beyond Aotearoa, whilst still maintaining strong connections to Niue? What is the place of Niue history in New Zealand history?

Article Details

Public History in Aotearoa New Zealand
Author Biographies

Jessica Pasisi, University of Otago

Jess Pasisi, of Niue, Pālagi, Ngāti Pikiao, and Tahitian descent, is a Pūkenga in Te Tumu, School of Māori, Pacific & Indigenous Studies, University of Otago. Her research field of expertise includes Niue Studies, climate change, and Pacific Studies. In 2020, Jess completed her doctoral thesis: “Kitiaga mo fakamahani e hikihikiaga matagi he tau fifine Niue: Tau pūhala he tau hiapo – Niue women’s perspectives and experiences of climate change: A hiapo approach” which examined Niue women’s narratives of climate change in Niue. Jess is a current recipient of a Health Research Council of New Zealand Pacific postdoctoral scholarship that focuses on conceptualisation and perspectives of Niue happiness and wellbeing.

Ioane Aleke Fa'avae, Unitec Institute of Technology

Ioane Aleke Fa‘avae was born in Niue and migrated to New Zealand at a young age. He hails from the village of Mutalau. Ioane is skillful in Niue oratory and traditions. He is a choreographer, composer, educator, actor, author, and playwright. Ioane is passionate about teaching Vagahau Niue at the tertiary level and continues to make significant contributions to spaces of Niue language, culture, knowledge, and research. Ioane is currently an Academic Development Lecturer – Pacific at Unitec and a lecturer in vagahau Niue at the Manukau Institute of Technology.

Zoë Catherine Lavatangaloa Henry, University of Auckland

Zoë Catherine Lavatongaloa Henry is of Māori (Ngāpuhi/Ngāti Kahu), Niue (Makefu), and European descent. She is currently a PhD candidate in Pacific Studies, Te Wānanga o Waipapa at the University of Auckland. Her current research focuses on how punishment has been transformed by contact in the Pacific, with a particular focus on Niue. Zoë’s earlier research focused on punishment in early medieval Christianity and how mātauranga Māori could help re-think these processes for Christian communities.

Rennie Atfield-Douglas, University of Auckland

Rennie Atfield-Douglas was raised New Zealand and comes from the villages of Hakupu, Avatele and Hikutavake. Rennie currently works at the University of Auckland as the Head of South Auckland Campus. He has a Bachelor of Health Science and is currently in the final parts of a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree majoring in Pacific Studies at the University of Auckland. 

Toliain Makaola, Independent Researcher

Toliain Makaola currently works as a research assistant and cultural advisor on the Niue Happiness Project. She has tertiary level experience in media and communications. Toli completed a Level 3 certificate in vagahau Niue at the Manukau Institute of Technology in 2021 and has recently completed the Maintaining Vagahau course at the Centre for Pacific Languages. Toli is a committed member of the Niue community, organising and supporting various language and other cultural events that benefit tau tagata Niue and those interested in learning more about Niue.

Zora Feilo, Tupumaiga A Niue Trust

Zora Feilo is a NZ born Niuean. Her late father Leotau Vitamini Osikai Feilo is from the village of Alofi and her mother Elsa Manatagaloa Tukuniu Feilo is from Avatele and Tamakautonga. Zora is mother to her young adults Kirsten, Zethan, Allexander and Candice, and Nana to Eva and Rosa. She likes to spend time with family, taking photos, travelling and writing. Zora is a founding member of the Tupumaiaga A Niue Trust who provide heritage and contemporary arts programmes for Niuean Youth in Auckland during the school holidays.

Asetoa Sam Pilisi, University of Auckland

Sam Pilisi is a New Zealand born, central Auckland raised, researcher of Niue and Samoan descent. He is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Auckland. His qualifications include a BA (Social Sciences) MEdL (1st Class Hons) from AUT, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Arts (Pacific Studies) from the University of Auckland. Sam has worked in the education sector for the past 15 years, with a key focus on mentoring and supporting Pacific youth aspirations into tertiary education and he is working in Pacific Health Research at the University of Auckland.