‘This is for Niue’ Hon. Young Vivian on being awarded the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Niue

Hon. Mititaiagimene Young Vivian will be awarded the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Niue

Niue’s second and fifth Premier Hon. Mititaiagimene Young Vivian was recognised in the New Zealand New Years’ Honours list to be awarded the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to Niue. 

Hon. Young Vivian is only the second Niuean and the second Premier after the late Hon. Frank FakaotimanavaLui, to be awarded this recognition for services to Niue.

One other Niuean recognised is Sullivan Luao Paea of Manukau, originally of Hakupu was also recognised for services to youth, he will be awarded the Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit. 

Premier Dalton Tagelagi was one of the first to publicly congratulate former Premier Vivian.

“This honour is well deserved by one of the founding fathers of Niue becoming a nation. I am beyond pleased that Papa Young’s contribution, hard work, dedication and service to Niue and her people have been recognised in the New Year Honours List 2023. He is well known and cherished by the Niue people.” said Premier Tagelagi.

BCN News spoke with Hon. Young Vivian last week at his home at Hakupu. There a very few homes in Niue with a library but at Young Vivian’s home, as an educator, the library is the room he spends most of his time in.

It is a space overflowing with books and pictures of his lifelong career as a politician and diplomat. On the shelves are pictures of his children and his grandchildren, and amongst his books are books for his grandchildren.

When asked for his thoughts on being recognized by the New Zealand government for services to Niue he said this is for all of Niue.

“I’m very very thankful and grateful for New Zealand. It is not for me but for Niue and I think the recognition is well received by me, my family, my village and my country”.

He was emotional when he spoke of his late wife Vaitofuola saying that this award is also for his wife, for the many years she stood by his side until she passed away in 2004. He paid tribute to his parents and their picture he keeps close by where he can always say to his father ‘Dad I’m trying hard’.

Hon. Young Vivian is the only surviving member of the architects of Niue’s constitution. From 1969 to 1971, he was part of the Pre-constitution Executive Committee serving with Hon. Robert Richmond Rex Snr was the Leader of Government.

Hon. Young Vivian along with the late Hon. Frank Fakaotimanava Lui and Hon. Dr. Enetama made up the Executive Committee led by the New Zealand Resident Commissioner.

Young Vivian and Niue’s first Premier Robert Rex Senior went to the United Nations in New York to deliver the decision of the people of Niue to become a self-governing state in free association with New Zealand. 

In the first Niue Legislative Assembly from 1972 – 1974 he represented his village of Hakupu and was appointed a Minister of the Cabinet.

With Robert Muldoon during Young Vivian’s term as Director General of the South Pacific Commission

From 1979 to 1982 he served as the Director General of the then South Pacific Commission, a  time he said he was proud to have started the fish tagging initiative with the help and support of former New Zealand Prime Minister Robert Muldoon.

His political career spans four decades and twice as Premier. In 1992 he was appointed Niue’s second Premier after Premier Sir Robert Rex passed away while in office.

Young Vivian was one of the first scholars sent from Niue to be educated in New Zealand and groomed to become Niue’s first leaders. 

He was a teacher and a politician who served the Niue Fono Ekepule for 46 years until his retirement in 2017. He is also a strong pillar of the community, in the church and in village affairs. 

“I believe that if you involve yourself in all these things, you begin to understand the Niuean people, how very strong we were.  How we contributed to the first World War. All that should be passed on to our children. The spirit of it all should be passed on to our children, to make them strong, to make them better people of this world, and to contribute to the world. We owe it to the world. We owe it to God”

One of his passions is the promotion of the vagahau Niue. Hon. Young Vivian famously coined the phrase ‘Kua aloalo mai tuai e vagahau Niue’ meaning the Vagahau is waving goodbye, making this his call to encourage the young generation to use and preserve the vagahau Niue.

Since the announcement of his award, family and friends have been visiting him to extend their congratulations to a man well regarded as one of the best orators of Niue.

Most days he is seen in the garden, where he visits the graves of his parents and his wife

He is a revered leader who has served Niue well, which was why he was recognised by the Niue government in the Inaugural Niue Honours List in 2020 awarding him the highest honour of the Distinguished Cross.

BCN News understands the Awards ceremony is expected to take place in April but it is not yet certain if Hon. Young Vivian will be traveling to New Zealand to accept the award.

For now the eighty-seven-year-old will continue to spend his days enjoying the beautiful flowers in his garden overlooking the church, where he can see from his library, the ever-present pillar of the Hakupu village.

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