News about Niue

Published in Insights, The New Zealand Initiative’s newsletter, 23 June 2017

We may not often hear about Niue, that small Pacific island state. But within the past week, we heard about it twice. First as a paradise in need of culturally sensitive help, and then as a potential libertarian sanctuary.

Bill English included a stop in the capital of Alofi on his island-hopping tour of the South Pacific. There the Prime Minister opened a new hotel development made possible by New Zealand aid money.

Despite such generosity, English was criticised by his Niuean counterpart for bringing in food for the ceremony. Apparently, that was disrespectful of the island’s culture. New Zealand was warned that in the future the insulted Niueans might turn to other countries for aid instead.

Apart from such occasional political dissonances, Niue is described as a near paradise on earth. At least that is what Niue Tourism tells us on their web page. It is a place “where people are friendly, adventure activities are amazing, there’s no air pollution, phone numbers have 4 digits and the New Zealand dollar is official currency.”

That four digits suffice for a phone number is of course because there are only 1,612 residents on Niue. And this is where the second story comes in.

In the Facebook group of the Australian Libertarian Forum, a user suggested that Niue’s small and decreasing population could make it an ideal candidate for a takeover. “The country may be totally abandoned in the next few years and become a natural tropical paradise or … a libertarian utopia.”

Noting that it only takes three years in the country to become a citizen, an invasion of thousands of committed libertarians could turn the island into a libertarian wonderland.

Though such a new way for Niue sounds exciting, pitfalls remain. As one commentator wryly observed, “Being a libertarian country is one thing. Earning income might be another thing entirely.”

The next question concerns the head of state, a position currently held by Elizabeth II in her capacity as Queen of New Zealand. As it turns out, even anarchists feel queasy about removing Her Majesty.

As a final complication, and given enough of a libertarian influx, Niue might even need a fifth digit for their phone numbers.

Alas, a libertarian Niue might over time become quite a complicated place. But hopefully it could still turn to New Zealand for foreign aid.

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