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Nui (atoll)

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Country  Tuvalu
Area  3.37 km2
Population  548

Nui is an atoll and one of nine districts of the Pacific Ocean state of Tuvalu. It has a land area of 3.37 km² and a population of 548 (2002 census).


Map of Nui (atoll)


Nui (atoll) Beautiful Landscapes of Nui (atoll)

Nui consists of at least 21 islets. These are:

  • Fenua Tapu
  • Motupuakaka
  • Pakantou
  • Piliaieve
  • Pongalei
  • Talalolae
  • Telikiai, also known as Meang
  • Tokinivae
  • Unimai
  • and at least 12 other islands

  • The biggest, most southern and most eastern island is Fenua Tapu (area 1.38 km²), which is followed by Telikiai (which is the most western islet), Tokinivae, Pongalei, Talalolae, Pakantou, Unimai, Piliaieve and Motupuakaka. Most human habitation in Nui is on the western end of Fenua Tapu where a village including the settlements of Fenua Tapu and Tanrake lies. The junior school is Vaipuna Primary School.

    Early history

    Nui (atoll) in the past, History of Nui (atoll)

    The island was first sighted by Europeans on 16 January 1568 by Spanish navigator Alvaro de Mendana, who named it Isla de Jesus (Spanish for "Island of Jesus") because it was discovered on the day following the feast of the Holy Name. There are no less than six accounts of this event, that of Mendana himself being as follows:

    Nui (atoll) in the past, History of Nui (atoll)

    "A little after nine oclock in the morning, a lad called Trejo, being aloft, first sighted land upon the starboard side to the southwest...When we drew near, we found it so small that it was no more than six leagues in circumference. This island was very full of trees like palms; towards the north it had a reef, which entered the sea a quarter of a league, and towards the south was another smaller reef. On the west side it had a strand lying lengthways, with reefs in different parts. This is on the west side, for we could not go round the east side because of the weather. Taking this island from the sea outwards, it has the shape of two galleys, with a copse in the middle which appears like a fleet of ships"

    Mendana found the island inhabited and five canoes came nearly within bow shot of his ship, when their occupants raised their paddles and turned back with shouts. Mendana thereupon ordered signals to be made to them with a white cloth to try and get them to return, instead of which they landed and in turn stuck up signals along the shore. At night one of the ships showed a light, it was copied by a fire, and when it was put out the fire extinguished also. Hernan Gallego, Mendanas pilot, says the natives were "naked and mulattoes" and Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa, cosmographer in the expedition reported that the island "had a large fishery". As it was late Mendana decided to defer landing until the morning and kept the ships tacking all night. With the dawn, however, a strong westerly storm blew up, and although they tried all day to regain the island they were at length compelled to give up.

    A Dutch expedition (the frigate Maria Reigersberg) found Nui on the morning of June 14th, 1825 and named the main island (Fenua Tapu) as Nederlandsch Eiland.

    The population of Nui from 1860–1900 is estimated to be between 250 and 300 people. Martin Kleis was the resident trader on Nui in the late 19th Century who sold copra to Henderson and Macfarlane.

    Thomas Andrew (photographer) visited Nui in about 1885-86.

    Nui Post Office opened around 1919.

    Celebrations are held on Nui on the 16 February - Bogin te Ieka (Day of the Flood) - to commemorate the Tsunami that struck the island on that day in 1882.

    Nui cuisine

    Pascuense cuisine or cuisine of Rapa Nui incorporates seafood such as fish, octopus (heke), eel (koreh), sea snails (pipi) and crustaceans (lobster), as well as sweet potato, taro, banana, pineapple, coconut, pumpkin, and poultry, pork and lamb meat.

    Traditional foods include umu, meat, fish, vegetables and fruit wrapped in banana leaves and roasted in umu pae - an earth oven. Poe, pudding made of mashed bananas, pumpkin and flour is baked in the umu pae as well. Other favorite dishes are tunu ahi, fish grilled on hot stones, or ceviche. Pascuense cuisine also includes meat dishes, such as pork or mutton ribs.


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