Known until the early 20th century as Savage Island, a name given by Captain James Cook when he was confronted by spear-wielding natives upon first landing there in 1774, Niue has the world’s smallest capital, Alofi. The flag of the 100-square-mile island nation shows links to two other nations on a background meant to elicit an image of sunshine and warmth.
The Niuean flag features the Union Jack of Britain in the upper corner. A yellow five-pointed star is added to each of the red bands of the St. George’s Cross of the Union Jack. The four stars represent the Southern Cross constellation and are tied to the New Zealand flag. A fifth yellow star is placed on a blue disc at the intersection of the St. George’s Cross. This larger star represents Niue’s self-rule and the blue disc represents the surrounding ocean. The yellow background of the flag represents the sunshine on the island and the continuing warmth of the nation’s relationship with New Zealand. The flag is in a 1:2 proportion.
The Niuean flag has been in use since 1975. Niue established a self-governing system on Oct. 19, 1974, but Niueans are in free association with and remain citizens of New Zealand. Previously, it had been a territory of New Zealand since 1901. Niue’s official relationship with Great Britain began just one year previously, in 1900. In 1877, the British appointed a Western Pacific High Commissioner and claimed for the Commission all Western Pacific islands that were not already claimed by another colonial power. The High Commissioner’s flag was a Union Jack with a central white disk surrounded by a garland and containing a crown and the initials W.P.H.C. The crown would change in design as the king or queen changed in Britain. The High Commissioner visited Niue in 1879 and Niue petitioned three times over the next 20 years for British protection. It was named a British protectorate in 1900 and formally annexed to New Zealand in 1901.
Nine Niue villages have also village flags, including the largest village of Hakupu.