What are the Religions in Niue?
Niue is a religious country, particularly devoted to Christianity. Christianity was introduced on the island more than 150 years ago and has been going strong ever since. Christianity influences cultural norms, such as observing Sunday as a day of worship and rest, while the church plays a large part in social interactions, provides guidance and redistributes goods and services to those in need. As a visitor, being part of a church service or observing Christian holidays with the locals is a good way to immerse in the local culture. Find out more about the religions in Niue in the guide below.
Before we get into our guide to the religions of Niue, be sure to bookmark The Guide to the Niuean Culture for Travellers for even more advice on the local customs and cultural experiences.
A (Quick) History of the Religions in Niue
Ancient religion in Niue was the belief in a supernatural world, which was the home of “aitu” or spirits of deceased ancestors. Aitu would monitor the living, punishing those who would flout social conventions. Aspects of this old religion are still believed today, such as that dying is a transitional process, and is why a “fono” or a prohibition is put on a place if there has been a death there, simply put.
The first white missionary arrived in Niue around 1830, but Niueans didn’t convert to Christianity until one of their own people who had been living in Samoa, Peniamina returned to Niue and converted his village of Mutalau in 1846. By the time a famous congregationalist minister and missionary, George Lawes arrived in Niue in 1861, almost all of the population of Niue welcomed him as devout Christians.
Christianity in Niue
The religion most represented in Niue is Christianity with around 80% of the population identifying with one of Niue’s main Christian denominations. Religion is sacred in Niue, where Sundays are widely considered a day of worship and rest.
Where to Experience Christianity in Niue as a Visitor
Sunday worship is an integral part of the Niuean lifestyle for many. Visitors are welcome to join Sunday worship in one of the island’s village churches. Whether you’re religious or not, the experience of listening to beautiful harmonies sung by the locals is uplifting. It’s a great opportunity to experience a slice of life in Niue.
Note that appropriate dress needs to be worn for attending local church services: covering the knees of both men and women, wearing a collared shirt for men, a skirt for women, and, preferably, women wear an appropriate hat (but it’s Ok as a visitor if you don’t have one). Wearing hats and all-white, as these have symbolic meanings in a church setting. Learn more about cultural etiquette in the 5 Best Churches in Niue to Experience as a Visitor.
The Christian holidays of Easter, Christmas and Peniamina Gospel Day are special times to experience Niue when locals celebrate with special church services and festivals over the festive period. Learn more about them in our guides to Easter in Niue and Christmas in Niue.
Christian Denominations Represented in Niue
These are the main Christian denominations found in Niue in order of popularity:
- Ekalesia Niue (Congregational Christian Church of Niue)
- Latter-Day Saints
- Roman Catholic
- Jehovah’s Witness
- Seventh-Day Adventist.
Learn more about these churches in the 5 Best Churches in Niue to Experience as a Visitor.
Other Religions in Niue
Not much data is available for other religions in Niue. You will not find places of worship for other religions on the island other than the Christian denominations already mentioned.
According to Statistics Niue, around 8.6% of the population (around 130 people) observe another Christian denomination or religion not stated. 10% of the population (around 150 people) are either atheists or have not stated a religion in the national census.
Learn more about the population in Who are the People of Niue?
Frequently Asked Questions About Religion in Niue
Finally, check out the frequently asked questions about the religions in Niue and see if your question is answered!
What Religious or Spiritual Beliefs are Practised in Niue?
Most religious or spiritual beliefs practised in Niue surround Christianity, such as observing Sunday (or Saturday for Seventh-Day Adventists) as a day of worship and rest.
Aspects of Niue’s pre-Christianity religion are still enacted today, such as that dying is a transitional process and is why a “fono” or a prohibition is put on a place where there has been a death.
There are also cultural practices in Niue, many surrounding the cutting or growing of hair, which we detail in Niue Culture: The Guide to the Niuean Culture for Travellers.
Who Brought Christianity to Niue?
Peniamina, a Niuean missionary who was converted and lived in Samoa, brought Christianity to Niue when he returned to the island and converted his village of Mutalau in 1846.
More About Religion in Niue
That’s it for the guide to the religions in Niue. To learn more about the culture of Niue, check out our other guides:
- 10 Things to Do in Niue on a Sunday
- 5 Best Churches in Niue to Experience as a Visitor
- What is the Niue Language?