Music of Niue

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The music of Niue has a long history. Niue is a Polynesian island in the South Pacific. Though independent, it is in free association with New Zealand.

Niue island country in the South Pacific Ocean

Niue is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean, 2,400 kilometres (1,500 mi) northeast of New Zealand, east of Tonga, south of Samoa, and west of the Cook Islands. Niue's land area is about 261 square kilometres (101 sq mi) and its population, predominantly Polynesian, was about 1,600 in 2016. The island is commonly referred to as "The Rock", which comes from the traditional name "Rock of Polynesia". Niue is one of the world's largest coral islands. The terrain of the island has two noticeable levels. The higher level is made up of a limestone cliff running along the coast, with a plateau in the centre of the island reaching approximately 60 metres high above sea level. The lower level is a coastal terrace approximately 0.5 km wide and about 25–27 metres high, which slopes down and meets the sea in small cliffs. A coral reef surrounds the island, with the only major break in the reef being in the central western coast, close to the capital, Alofi. A notable feature are the many limestone caves near the coast.

Polynesia Subregion of Oceania

Polynesia is a subregion of Oceania, made up of more than 1,000 islands scattered over the central and southern Pacific Ocean. The indigenous people who inhabit the islands of Polynesia are termed Polynesians, and share many similar traits including language family, culture, and beliefs. Historically, they had a strong tradition of sailing and using stars to navigate at night. The largest country in Polynesia is New Zealand.

Oceania Geographic region comprising Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia

Oceania is a geographic region which includes Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. Spanning the eastern and western hemispheres, Oceania has a land area of 8,525,989 square kilometres (3,291,903 sq mi) and has a population of 40 million. Situated in the southeast of the Asia-Pacific region, Oceania, when compared to continental regions, is the smallest in land area and the second smallest in population after Antarctica.


History of Music

The Niue culture and tradition is also rich in music. However, most of the very traditional Niuean songs are sung without the use of any musical instruments. The only instrument that is used for the very traditional dances is a wooden drum known in Niuean as palau or nafa, made out of a carved trunk of the selie tree. The use of the instrument is mainly to provide a beat for the dances.

Beat (music) basic unit of time in music and music theory

In music and music theory, the beat is the basic unit of time, the pulse, of the mensural level. The beat is often defined as the rhythm listeners would tap their toes to when listening to a piece of music, or the numbers a musician counts while performing, though in practice this may be technically incorrect. In popular use, beat can refer to a variety of related concepts, including pulse, tempo, meter, specific rhythms, and groove.


The main dance for celebrating the opening of a new building, facility, wedding, or birthday is the tame. The tame involves singing with guitars, ukuleles and sometimes using a musical keyboard. It accompanies a dance that has different actions to go with the meaning of the song. Both men and women dance together in a tame. Most of the time the women will dance while sitting down while the men dance while standing. However, this has nothing to do with status, as Niue women and men have equal status in the Niue society.

Ukulele member of the guitar family

The ukulele or ukelele is a member of the guitar family of instruments. It generally employs four nylon or gut strings or four courses of strings. Some strings may be paired in courses, giving the instrument a total of six or eight strings.


As Niue modernized, its music began to be influenced by other cultures. Manaia Studio and the Niue Broadcasting Corporation are the only recording studios on the island. There are many Niue artists who have made it to the top. But Pauly Fuemana of OMC (Otara's Millionaires Club) is half Niuean and half Māori, became the first New Zealander to reach the top of the charts in 12 countries with his hit "How Bizarre" which sold over 3 million albums which makes him the most successful Pacific music artist ever. The Fuemana Family is the most successful Pacific family with over 12 NZ music awards between. The musician Che Fu is very popular, and has won several Tui Awards, a New Zealand music award. This is an enormous achievement for a country with only a few thousand people, as other countries bigger than Niue have yet to reach those heights conquered by these Niuean artists. The Kilakokonut Krew group and record label is also made up of Niuean artists Vela Manusaute and Glen Jackson. The migration of Niueans to New Zealand also make greater influences on Niuean music. There are up-and-coming artists, such as MC Kava, who now sing in contemporary styles of music like rap, hip-hop and reggae.

Pauly Fuemana New Zealand musician

Paul Lawrence Fuemana was a Niuean-New Zealand singer, songwriter and musician. Fuemana was the lead singer of the music duo, OMC, which was best known internationally for the 1995/1996 hit, "How Bizarre".

Māori people Indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand

The Māori are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand. Māori originated with settlers from eastern Polynesia, who arrived in New Zealand in several waves of canoe voyages somewhere between 1320 and 1350. Over several centuries in isolation, these settlers developed their own distinctive culture whose language, mythology, crafts and performing arts evolved independently from other eastern Polynesian cultures.

How Bizarre (song) 1995 single by OMC

"How Bizarre" is a single written and recorded by New Zealand musical group OMC. It was released in December 1995 as the lead single from the group's debut album of the same name, and went on to top the charts in at least five countries, including Australia, Canada and Ireland. Outside New Zealand, OMC are generally considered a one-hit wonder; they had a further few successful singles in New Zealand, including "Land of Plenty". The song was featured in the 1998 movies Palmetto and Disney's The Parent Trap and plays at the start of Season 2 Episode 1 of Clueless.

There are also many Niuean artists who have produced records in Niuean language, groups like Island Pride (J'Love Hekesi), Glen JXN Jackson) , PNG Highlanders, Salekiu Tusini, Niupila Billy Hunuki, Napoleon and the Lost Liku Lovers, Niue Arts Festival Group, TA5 (music), Manu Folau, Moana Lukeluke, Tony.T & Ian Hipa, Nu Beat & Tama Niue Mooli and a lot of other artists to name. Fuata Muta was the first Niuean group to play and record their own music albums. From the actual playing of the instruments to the engineering and mixing the songs at one of Sydney's largest recording studios in 1985 and 1986. Church choirs are also common. However, they sing traditional hymns with no instrumental accompaniment at all.

Niueans are talented people who have charted and Include Harry Uasi Leki who was originally from the Village of Hakupu, who was in a band in the 1960s called "Simple Image" , which had 4 Chart topping hits including "Spinning Spinning Spinning" . Feau Halatau from the Village of Hakupu, was a founding member and drummer of the "The Radars" , he was known to be partially blind and this group won a TVNZ Music award in the 1970s-1980s. Tyree Tautogia was part of the NZ hip hop group called Smashproof, he is also a person of Niuean ancestry and descent. Tony Fuemana aka OMC, a Niuean descendant from the village of Mutalau topped the charts in 12 countries and won a few awards in New Zealand. Che Fu Ness topped the charts also and has won a few awards in New Zealand. Tony T aka Tony Nogotautama from the village of Hakupu, was part of the famous band Ardijah and D - Faction, which released the popular cover "Down in the Boondocks" .

Three Niuean LPs have been released on Vinyl which were pressed when Niueans travelled for the South Pacific Arts Festivals in Suva & Rotorua. Many Niuean Cassette Tapes and CDs have been produced and made over the years in Australia, New Zealand and Niue.

Victa Talima released a cassette tape in Sydney , Australia. It was called "Neva" and was released in 1997. It included his cult classic remake of Titania Talagi's hit "Koe Fisi Siale" and pretty popular among Niueans in the world. He released two CDs, one called "Hihina Mata" (2000) and "Vela" (2006) with moderate success and with some popular tunes. His song "Tolitoli" from the Hihina Mata album was one of the First Niuean songs to be banned from Niuean Radio station BCN for its explicit lyrics.

Niue had a Recording studio called Manaia Studios, which produced a few artists famous to Niueans they included, Malakava Sisters (Daughters of Titania and Matalose Talagi; they sung the cult classic "Tama Afine Niue" and covered popular hits "Koe Auro Moe Alio" , Teuila and Frances (Sung the song "Fakatai a Susana" ), Sionepaea Kumitau (Sung the songs "Haku Loto Paiki" & "Fano Au He Tau" , Bommo & Co (Kimray Vaha) , Falala Niue (Compilation of songs for the 1999 Miss Niue pageant, includes popular hits "Alito Mata He Fuata" ; This was sung by Coral Pasisi & Jackson Hekesi. this song was composed for Miss Fiafia Rex, written by Tagaloa Rex Cooper. "Falala Mai Fineone" sung by the Hakupu Youth. Tomanogi (Husband and wife Duo Tom & Ligimanogi Misikea, composer of the popular Huvalu Forest Conservation party song "Ta Kalali")

Ta Kalali has been covered a few times, Jolly Talima & The Talima Band, covered this song for the Çyclone Heta album. Jackson Hekesi (J'love) covered this song for his 'Blast from the Past' album.

Napoleon Manetoa & The Lost Liku Lovers, released the CD 'Neva' ; It included many known hits and a few new songs never heard before. It included the tracks Pa pa Seliga, Ko E Kufani, Kua Amanaki and many more.

Other Niuean groups or artists to release music are Kuma Mo Feke, Mefi Fifita, Malcolm Lakatani, Sheelagh Cooper, James Viliua, Tina Tuibenau, Brad Etuata, Annette Posimani, Jayjay Poumale.

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