Look! A Kingdom Hall in Niue
NIUE is a small coral island in the South Pacific, 1,340 miles [2,160 km] northeast of New Zealand. According to a travel brochure, the name Niue comes from two words, Niu, meaning “coconut tree,” and e, meaning “behold,” or “look.” The brochure says: “Legend has it that the first Polynesian settlers uttered these words upon their arrival when seeing the coconut trees growing on the land.”
Today, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Niue are proud to tell visitors, “E! Fale he Kautu ha mautolu!” meaning, “Look! Our Kingdom Hall!” Why do they have such deep feelings about this hall? Jehovah’s Witnesses everywhere are proud of their Kingdom Halls, especially if they themselves were the builders. But to build a Kingdom Hall on a remote island in the middle of the vast South Pacific is quite another matter. After all, Niue covers only 100 square miles [260 sq km], and there are only 2,300 people on the entire island.
There was the question of who would build the Kingdom Hall. The one congregation in Niue has only 32 Witnesses. All the major equipment needed, such as trucks, bulldozers, and cranes, is owned by the government. Furthermore, virtually all the essential building materials—steel, concrete blocks, roofing, electrical and plumbing materials, sound equipment, and chairs—would have to be shipped in from New Zealand on a service that operates only once every five weeks. Finally, the island’s rocky surface would make construction difficult, and the hall would have to be built to withstand tropical hurricanes. Indeed, a formidable task for anyone!
There was, however, a major difference here. For Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Kingdom Hall is the center of true worship locally, and they look to Jehovah God for direction and help. (Psalm 56:11; 127:1) Christian brothers in New Zealand, including members of a Niuean congregation in Auckland, came to the aid of the small group of Witnesses in Niue, lending wholehearted support to the building project.
The Decision to Proceed
In June 1994 at a Kingdom Hall construction site in Rotorua, New Zealand, a call went out for those interested in sharing in the Niue project. Amazingly, 200 Christian brothers and sisters volunteered. From these, 80 persons were selected, including carpenters, steel workers, plumbers, roofers, plasterers, painters, electricians, sound technicians, concrete workers, bricklayers, and laborers.
The brothers drew up plans and moved ahead, trusting in Jehovah. One of the two congregation elders in Niue, a local businessman, started on the arrangements for shipping in all needed materials. A special air-travel/accommodation fare was negotiated for the overseas workers, who volunteered to pay their own expenses, and the building dates were set. The project was to be completed in 20 days, from March 4 to March 23, 1995, when the Kingdom Hall would be dedicated.
“I had my first-ever panic attack when I saw the site,” said the project director, who came over from New Zealand one week ahead to set things up. “The ground is all rock. It will take two weeks just to dig the footings.” But he had underestimated the local Witnesses, he later admitted. “The Niuean brothers can read rocks,” he said. “They know where to hit a rock so that big pieces will fall off.” The footings were completed in two days!
On March 4 the first planeload of New Zealand Witnesses arrived, and the concrete work was done. As successive groups of workers came, various phases of the project were completed. Workdays began at 7:00 a.m. with a brief discussion of the daily Bible text. Some brothers worked 12-hour days in temperatures up to 97 degrees Fahrenheit [36° C.]. Finally, by March 23, the grounds had been landscaped. An attractive sign made from a mango tree identified the building as the “Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
Spirit of Cooperation and Hospitality
A vital factor that contributed to the success of the project was the cooperation of the people of Niue. Local villagers, caught up in the spirit of the occasion, donated food and money. Many viewed the hall construction as their project. Government officials and businessmen rendered services that went beyond the call of duty. Needed equipment was made available, as was a woodwork factory. The shipping company even rerouted its ship to make sure that needed materials would arrive at just the right time.
The visitors truly appreciated the hard work and hospitality of the Niuean Witnesses, who shared their homes and possessions. “Local sisters were wonderful,” said one construction worker. In addition to the hot noon meal every day, the sisters served a cooked breakfast each morning at 6:30. Some got up at 4:30 a.m. to prepare the food. Said one construction worker: “I think we have lived better over here in Niue than we do in our own homes.”
On March 10 the Niue Star reported on the event in a front-page story with the headline “The First Kingdom Hall in Niue” and a picture of New Zealanders and Niueans working at the site. It related that the hall is 3,000 square feet [280 sq m] in size and seats from 70 to 100 people. The article added: “The task can actually be completed in two [weeks], but in this case it will be extended. At this stage, only two days after work commenced, the foundation, frames, rafters and roof have been erected, ahead of time.”
A local businessman expressed the wish that all on Niue Island have a look at the project and learn a lesson from it. He said that he hoped it would show everyone what can be done with love and cooperation.
A crowd of 204 came to the dedication. What proved to be a very moving experience for all in attendance was a special presentation in which the Niuean brothers, sisters, and children depicted in song and dance the building of the Kingdom Hall. Expressions of thanks were made to the construction team and to Jehovah, whose spirit moved minds, hearts, and hands to accomplish the task.—Isaiah 40:28-31.