Niue - Overview

DRM in Niue is underpinned by the Public Emergency Act 1979, the Public Emergency Regulations 2004, the National Disaster Relief Act 1980 and the 2010 Disaster Management Plan. The 1979 Act provides extensive powers to the Cabinet to create regulations once a Proclamation of Emergency has been declared. Such regulations will have the immediate force of law but must be agreed by the Assembly within 14 days if they are to have power beyond this period. The 2004 Regulations provide a more detailed framework but confirm Cabinet as the ultimate authority in terms of Disaster Risk Management. In practice, management of DRM is conducted by the National Disaster Council (NDC) which comprises key Directors of Public Service Departments and Ministries under the chairmanship of the Secretary of government. In the event of a disaster event, the Emergency Executive Group (a subset of the NDC) coordinates the response.

 

In the event of a Disaster, the Disaster Controller has the primary responsibility for DRM leadership under the Act. Under the 2010 plan, the Chief of Police is expected to take on this role. In 2013, Niue created a National Disaster Management Office. The exact role for this is agency is unclear from the formal documentation available.

 

During a disaster event, the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) operates as the hub of national response efforts and initial recovery efforts. It comprises the Disaster Controller, the EEG and key co-ordinators of operations, logistics, international assistance and communications. It is not clear from the plan how these operations are delivered in practice.
Niue is a self-governing territory within the Realm of New Zealand. Niuean residents are New Zealand citizens and Niue has no currency of its own, instead using the NZ dollar. The relationship is one of free association governed by the Niue Constitution Act 1974 (a New Zealand statute) and the Statement of Partnership 2019–2023. Section 6 of the Constitution Act place defence and foreign affairs in the hands of the New Zealand executive, although s 8 emphasises a cooperative relationship around implementation of international obligations and, by implication, foreign affairs generally. In practice, Niue operates a semi-autonomous foreign policy and has established diplomatic relationships with a number of states (a small number of whom have explicitly recognised Niue as a sovereign state). However, most continue to treat Niue as a self-governing territory within the Realm of New Zealand, in accordance with the formal position of the New Zealand government. Nevertheless, Niue is recognised as having full treaty-making capacity by the UN Secretariat and is a signatory to a number of treaties, including a number of relevance to Disaster Risk Reduction. Although Niue is not a member of the United Nations itself, it is a full member of several UN agencies,
including the FAO, UNESCO and the WHO.

 

Niue operates a “Westminster” form parliamentary democracy with the British Monarch (in Right of New Zealand) as the head of state. There is no permanent Crown representative in Niue and the limited, ceremonial, duties are performed by the Governor-General of New Zealand and the Speaker of the 20-member Niue Assembly. The speaker is elected by the members of the Assembly but cannot be a member of it. The assembly is comprised of 14 members representing village constituencies and six representing the island as a whole. No political parties operate in Niue.

 

Practical executive authority is exercised by the Premier and their three-person cabinet. The Premier is elected by and from the Niue Assembly by a simple majority. Cabinet Ministers are proposed by the Premier from amongst Niue Assembly members and are formally appointed by the speaker. Each Ministry or Department is headed by a permanent Director or Director-General who operates under direction from the Minister as per the Westminster model. Niue operates a village system of local government with 14 local councils under the 1967 Niue Village Council Act. The role of the church in this system is significant. In some villages the Village Council and the Church Council are indistinguishable.