Shared Citizenship and Sovereignty: The Case of the Cook Islands’ and Niue’s Relationship with New Zealand

  • Zbigniew DumieńskiEmail author
Living reference work entry


The world in the twenty-first century contains many distinct small polities of varying degree of self-governance, ranging from fully sovereign states to mere autonomies or special administrative regions. Their existence raises the question of the meaning of sovereignty, statehood, and politico-economic viability in the face of extreme geographic and demographic challenges. This question is of particular relevance in the context of one group of diminutive states that have delegated some of the key attributes of their sovereignty to larger states in order to overcome some of the limitations imposed upon them by geography or demographics. This chapter examines two such political units: the Cook Islands and Niue. While formally independent, they have functioned in free association with New Zealand. In addition to receiving significant amounts of financial assistance, as well as delegating authority in such areas as monetary policy or defense to their former metropolitan power, the Cook Islanders and Niueans have remained New Zealand citizens, and their territories have remained treated as part of New Zealand for the purpose of obtaining its citizenship. The existence of such arrangements has been a source of confusion. In particular, it has raised the question of the compatibility of free association and shared citizenship with sovereign statehood. This chapter addresses this question and argues that despite their miniscule size and close association with New Zealand, both the Cook Islands and Niue can and should be seen as sovereign states.


Microstates Small states Sovereignty Shared citizenship Free association Modern protected states 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Auckland University of TechnologyAucklandNew Zealand

Section editors and affiliations

  • Joseph Rudolph
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceTowson UniversityTowsonUSA

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