The tropical cyclones that hit Niue once every 7-10 years are part of a pattern of damage and restoration that has been part of life in the South Pacific for time immemorial.
Crops are damaged by wind and salt spray, boats and buildings are wrecked, plantations destroyed and water supplies may be contaminated.
Food crops normally take from eight-18 months to recover depending on the extent of the damage, while tree crops may take nearly a decade to fully recover – just in time for the next cyclone to hit.
In historical times, the loss of crops, salt contamination and the destruction of fishing gear would have led to widespread famine. These days, food and reconstruction aid from New Zealand, Australia and other Pacific countries ensures that no-one starves. However recent large cyclones have driven many people to emigrate to New Zealand and Australia.
Source: Hurricanes and socio-economic development on Niue Island, by Judith C Barker. Victoria University of Wellington, 2000.