Since 1974, Niue is a self-governing state in free association with New Zealand. Niue is one of the three states in the Realm of New Zealand. The Constitution of Niue came into force on 19 October 1974. It includes the Niue Constitution Act 1974 and the Niue Constitution. The Constitution of Niue is the supreme law of Niue.
The Head of State is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in right of New Zealand, represented by the Governor‑General of New Zealand in relation to Niue. In practice, the Queen and the Governor-General have little to do with Niue and executive authority is exercised on behalf of Her Majesty by the Niue Cabinet of Ministers.
The executive authority of Her Majesty is exercised on her behalf by the Niue Cabinet of Ministers, which comprises the Premier and three other members of the Niue Assembly. Cabinet is constitutionally responsible for exercising the general authority of Niue and has the general direction and control of the executive government of Niue.
The Premier is the leader of the government and the chair of Cabinet. He is elected by the Niue Assembly members at the Assembly’s first meeting after a general election. Election is by an absolute majority of the members present and voting at that Assembly meeting. The Premier nominates three members of the Assembly for appointment as Ministers and allocates portfolios among the members of Cabinet.
The Niue Constitution establishes the Niue Legislative Assembly. The Assembly consists of 20 Members elected by secret ballot under a system of universal suffrage. These 20 members are elected by way of 14 members to represent each village, and six members elected from the Common Roll that comprises the rolls of all the village constituencies (a national roll). General elections are held every 3 years, and the voting age is 18 years.
The Speaker of the Assembly is elected by the Assembly members at the Assembly’s first meeting after a general election.
The conduct of the Assembly is governed by the Constitution and the Standing Orders of the Assembly.
A Bill becomes law if it has been discussed in the Assembly and formally approved at three readings at which a minimum of 10 members present. All Bills introduced into the Assembly and all Acts are in written in both Vagahau Niue and English.
The Niue Assembly enacts laws for Niue. The sources of Niuean laws are, in order of priority:
Prior to 1974, there were Acts of the New Zealand parliament that extended to Niue. Some of these laws remain and have not been repealed. Their status is now that of Acts of the Niue Assembly.
The Constitution provides that a New Zealand Act may apply to Niue as a result of New Zealand legislation after 1974 only if expressly requested and consent to by a resolution of the Assembly, and if the New Zealand Act declares that the request and consent procedure was followed. The Niue Assembly has not made any such requests in this era.
The judiciary comprises the High Court of Niue, the Court of Appeal of Niue and the Privy Council. The High Court of Niue has 3 divisions; criminal, civil and land.
The Chief Justice and other judges are appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of Cabinet. Judges are typically New Zealand based judges of the New Zealand Maori Land Court. The Niue High Court convenes twice a year and the judges travel to Niue for these sittings.
At the lowest level in the system are the Justices of the Peace. Two of them acting together have the same jurisdiction as a Commissioner of the High Court. Where cases are heard by a Commissioner or two Justices of the Peace, appeal may be made to a Judge of the High Court.