Niuafoʻou is a Polynesian language spoken on the islands of Niuafoʻou and ʻEua, which are parts of the kingdom of Tonga, and are located between Fiji and Samoa. In 2002 there were about 1,000 speakers of Niuafoʻou, however since then the number has decreased.
Niuafoʻou is closely related to Wallisian, and the two languages are more or less mutually intelligible.
Due to a volcanic eruption in 1946, the entire Niuafoʻou population of 1,300 was evactuated, at first to Tongatapu, and then to ʻEua in 1949. They started to return to Niuafoʻou from 1958, but many remained on ʻEua, where there are still more Niuafoʻou people than on Niuafoʻou itself. While on Tongatapu, where the local Tongan population were hostile to them, the Niuafoʻou people found it difficult to retain their language,
A language shift from Niuafoʻou to Tongan is currently underway. Niuafoʻou is used mainly in private, while Tongan is the language of local government, education and religion.
Niuafoʻou is primarily an oral language. It was first written by missionaries. A project to translate the Bible in Niuafoʻou began in 2005. The first draft was completed in 2017.
Information about the Niuafoʻou language and about Niue
Page last modified: 23.04.21
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