According to tradition the early inhabitants of Niutao enjoyed a pleasant, easy life, undisturbed by strife, although this did not last indefinitely. From the north one day came three canoes carrying Kiribati warriors determined to make war on the peaceful island of Niutao. Unskilled at arms, the people put up little opposition. In the battle the chiefs and their male descendants were slain.
Shortly afterwards the I-Kiribati departed, leaving behind a grieving people, and an unstable authority system. From among the survivors on Niutao, a man named Papau became chief. Before he died he appointed his kinsman Kiali to succeed him. His widow, however, resented the succession of a man not of her family, induced her relative, Kiolili to depose Kiali and to make himself chief. This in turn aroused the ambition of Fuatia, a man of the same line as Papau who had supported Kiali, to whom he was also related.
Since Kiolili was an unpopular chief, Fuatia sailed to Nui where he persuaded a number of warriors, to help him overthrow Kiolili. Landing at night, they joined forces with Fuatia's lieutenant, an ambitious young man with Kiribati blood called Pokia who had stayed behind when Fuatia went to Nui. While Kiolili and his family were sleeping they attacked and killed Kiolili but spared his family.
Thus being unchallenged as the leaders of the community, Fuatia and Pokia then divided the island between them. Fuatia, the elder chief claimed all lands in the interior of the island and on the eastern coast while Pokia, the younger, held the land above the western beaches.
Neither of them wanted to take an active part in the Government of the island, so each appointed a sub-chief to represent them. Following that, the people living in the hamlet of Tamana on the eastern coast moved their dwelling to the west, with the result that the settlements of Mulitefao and Savaea were merged into the one large village where everybody lived.
Vaguna, assisted by Lito, was the ruling chief of the island when Christianity was introduced. The people had already learned something of this new religion from Mose a man from Vaitupu, but it was only in 1870 with the arrival of missionaries that they became seriously interested in it.
Captain Davis visited Niutao on 28th July 1892. He recorded the name of the King or chief as Vandunga; the trader was Jon Buckland, an Englishman trading for Henderson and Macfarlane. The number of native population was put at 615.