Niu (coconut palms) are known as the tree of life by the peoples of the Pacific. They grow abundantly in Niue, providing shade from the hot tropical sun.
But that’s only one of a multitude of services the palms provide. When split, the nut contains about four cups of sweet, nutritious and thirst-quenching liquid. Coconut cream is made by pulping the flesh of the coconut through the hessian-like matting that surrounds the base of each coconut frond. The cream is used in many dishes and is used as a food accompaniment. It is also mixed with starch-based flours to make bread dough.
If coconut cream is allowed to age and curdle, the resulting oil can be used in cooking or as an effective treatment for ringworm. When mixed with frangipani blossom, coconut oil becomes a fragrant perfume and a dressing for hair.
The empty shells are used to carry water, halved to make ceremonial bras, or polished, cut and shaped into jewellery. The fronds were traditionally made into roof thatching, the husk fibre woven into strong ropes, and the split fronds used as the framework around which pandanus leaves are woven into baskets, mats and hats.
The wood of the coconut palm was traditionally used to make tools and in house and canoe building.
Source: Niue by Charles Cooper. Reed Children’s Books, 2000, Auckland, New Zealand. ISBN 18694884