In the latter half of the 19th Century Frank Lawes, a missionary who had arrived in 1868 and had great influence over the Niueans hoisted the British flag and influenced their King Fataaiki in 1889 to petition Queen Victoria to make the island a British Protectorate. "lest some other nation should come and trouble us". Under Lawes' influence he petitioned again in 1895 for the flag of Great Britain to fly over Niue. Britain formally annexed Niue on 21 April 1900.
Transfer was transferred to New Zealand's rule in 1903 and on 29 September 1903 a separate administration was established, under a Resident Commissioner. The New Zealand flag, designed and adopted for restricted use in 1869, had become the national flag the year before, in 1902. It is the British Blue Ensign, incorporating a stylised representation of the Southern Cross showing the four brightest stars in the constellation. Each star varies slightly in size. The Union Flag in the canton recalls New Zealand's colonial ties to Britain.
In 1974 after a referendum self-government was granted and on 19 October 1974 Niue became internally self-governing in free association with New Zealand. Niue adopted a new seal (still based on the New Zealand Coat of Arms) and the following year a "Yellow Ensign" flag, representing the bright sunshine of Niue and "the warm feelings of the Niuean people towards New Zealand and her people". The Union Flag in the canton recalls that Niue became a British Protectorate in 1900. The four small stars represent the Southern Cross and New Zealand. The larger star on the blue disc symbolises the self-governing status of Niue, "standing alone within the deep blue sea".