Until the beginning of the 18th century, there was no national government on Niue with chiefs exercising authority over segments of the population. Around 1700, the concept and practice of kingship was introduced and from then on, a succession of putu-iki (kings) ruled the island.

In 1774, James Cook sighted Niue but was refused landing by the locals three times. Cook named Niue ‘Savage Island’. Missionaries from the London Missionary Society established Christianity in 1846.

In 1887, the king sought British protection, but this was turned down until 1900 when the island became a British protectorate, and the following year it was annexed by New Zealand.

A similar association as with the Cook Islands now exists with the island of Niue and all Niueans are New Zealand citizens and most diplomatic relations are conducted by New Zealand on Niue's behalf.

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