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Country information: Niue

Jan. 1, 2009: Est. population, 1,398; Members, 268; Districts, 0; Branches, 2; Percent LDS, 19.1, or one in 5; Pacific Area; Tonga Nuku'alofa Mission.

Niue, located in the South Pacific about 300 miles south of the Samoan Islands, is a self- governing island nation under New Zealand protection. Most residents speak Niuean and belong to the London Missionary Society religion.

The first known Latter-day Saints in Niue were Fritz Bunge-Kruger and his family from Samoa, who arrived in 1952. He was set apart to do missionary work on Niue before arriving by New Zealand Mission President Gordon C. Young. He operated a traveling movie business and went about the island showing movies in all the villages, and then, with the contacts he made, started a home Sunday School. Attendance soon grew to 80 and services were moved to a local dance hall. At Kruger's recommendation, full-time missionaries were sent to the island from the New Zealand Mission. Robert M. Goodman and Wallace L. Barrett arrived on 10 May 1952. The first baptisms took place on 14 August when 26 people were baptized and a branch of the Church was organized in Alofi. Other baptismal services followed, and a total of 65 were baptized the first year.

The Niue Island District (later renamed Niue District) was created in June 1954 with branches in Alofi, Liku, and Makefu and became part of the Tongan Mission. Work commenced on the Alofi meetinghouse on 12 February 1955, with a handful of members raising money and doing much of the building themselves. They were also assisted by labor missionaries. The building was completed in 1958. Meetinghouses were completed in Avatele, Mutalau, and Lakepa in 1959. In the 1960s, there was steady growth in Church membership and Church program development, especially in Primary and MIA. N. Feki Po'uha, a native of Tonga, was sustained as the first non-missionary district president on 12 April 1964. Due to transportation problems and in order to provide closer leadership support and training, the Niue District became part of the Samoan Mission on 1 February 1968, the Fiji Mission on 23 July 1971 when that mission was created. The Niue District reverted back to the Tonga Nuku'alofa Mission on 31 May 1975. Translated selections of the Book of Mormon in Niuean were first published in 1981 and revised in 1983.

Despite early opposition and persecution of Church members, and emigration of many Niuean Latter-day Saints to New Zealand, Church membership in 1999 was 14 percent of the island population. Moreover, Church members are now found in prominent government positions in Niue, many of which are children of earlier converts. Veve Jacobsen was a member of the National Assembly and Minister of Health and Education (1993-1999). Lagavalu Haioti is presently a senior magistrate of the court, responsible for 50 land commissioner judges and six justices of the peace. Latter-day Saint Youth are also represented on Niue's National Youth Council.

When super tropical cyclone Heta devastated the government offices on the island of Niue on 6 January 2004, the vital records of the country fell victim to the storm's incredible forces. In the village of Alofi, powerful waves whipped by 180 mph winds literally washed 70 homes and businesses into the sea from a cliff 90 feet above the South Pacific Ocean. In a ceremony held at the Auckland City Library on 25 February 2004, Elder Spencer J. Condie, second counselor in the Pacific Islands Area Presidency, presented 28 rolls of microfilm as a gift to the people and government of Niue from the Church. The vital records were captured on microfilm when the Genealogical Society of Utah contracted with the Niuean government to photograph and preserve the records in February 1994.

In 2003, membership was 252.

Sources: Robert M. Goodman, Niue of Polynesia, 2002; Relva R. Price, History of the Church in Niue, 1973, Church Archives; R. Lanier Britsch, Unto the Islands of the Sea, 1986; Douglas W. Banks, "Church Grows Prominent on Coral Atoll of Pacific," Church News, 18 September 1999; New Zealand Mission, Nuie Island reports, 1952-1954, Church Archives; Tongan Mission, Manuscript history and historical reports, Church Archives; "Priceless National Records Saved by Microfilm Efforts," www.lds.org/newsroom/showrelease/0,15503,4044-1-19551,00.html, accessed 24 August 2004.

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