Brain drain in Niue and Cook Islands

The Cook Islands have a few things in common with their neighbouring island Niue (which translates as „Behold, the Coconut“). Both are small island states in the middle of the immense South Pacific, each with a total area of approx. 250 km2 and respective populations of only a few thousand people. Also, both were annexed by New Zealand in the early 20th century after a spell of having been British protectorates.

Both island nations gained self-government from New Zealand around 1970. All through the 20th century, a steady growth can be seen in the Cook Islands. Then, around the time of self-government, things take a turn for the worse:

In the years following, both of these island states suffered from migrations, mainly to New Zealand. While the situation in the Cook Islands can be seen to improve in the last couple of decades, things have been going from bad to worse in Niue, from about 5000 inhabitants in 1970 to 1500 today, less than a third of what it was 40 years ago. One can’t help but wonder what the future will hold for the people of Niue.

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