Introduction Tokelau
Background: Originally settled by Polynesian emigrants from surrounding island groups, the Tokelau Islands were made a British protectorate in 1889. They were transferred to New Zealand administration in 1925. Geography Tokelau -
Location: Oceania, group of three atolls in the South Pacific Ocean, about one- half of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand
Geographic coordinates: 9 00 S, 172 00 W
Map references: Oceania
Area: total: 10 sq km water: 0 sq km land: 10 sq km
Area - comparative: about 17 times the size of The Mall in Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 101 km
Maritime claims: exclusive economic zone: 200 NM territorial sea: 12 NM
Climate: tropical; moderated by trade winds (April to November)
Terrain: low-lying coral atolls enclosing large lagoons
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m highest point: unnamed location 5 m
Natural resources: NEGL
Land use: arable land: 0% (soil is thin and infertile) permanent crops: 0% other: 100% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: NA sq km
Natural hazards: lies in Pacific typhoon belt Environment - current issues: very limited natural resources and overcrowding are contributing to emigration to New Zealand
Geography - note: consists of three atolls, each with a lagoon surrounded by a number of reef-bound islets of varying length and rising to over three meters above sea level People Tokelau
Population: 1,431 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 42% 15-64 years: 53% 65 years and over: 5% (1996 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.92% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: NA births/1,000 population
Death rate: NA deaths/1,000 population
Net migration rate: NA migrant(s)/1,000 population
Sex ratio: NA
Infant mortality rate: 38 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: NA years male: 68 years (2001) female: 70 years (2001)
Total fertility rate: NA children born/woman HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: NA% HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Tokelauan(s) adjective: Tokelauan
Ethnic groups: Polynesian
Religions: Congregational Christian Church 70%, Roman Catholic 28%, other 2% note: on Atafu, all Congregational Christian Church of Samoa; on Nukunonu, all Roman Catholic; on Fakaofo, both denominations, with the Congregational Christian Church predominant
Languages: Tokelauan (a Polynesian language), English
Literacy: NA Government Tokelau
Country name: conventional long form: none conventional short form: Tokelau
Dependency status: self-administering territory of New Zealand; note - Tokelauans are drafting a constitution, developing institutions and patterns of self- government as Tokelau moves toward free association with New Zealand
Government type: NA
Capital: none; each atoll has its own administrative center Administrative divisions: none (territory of New Zealand)
Independence: none (territory of New Zealand)
National holiday: Waitangi Day (Treaty of Waitangi established British sovereignty over New Zealand), 6 February (1840)
Constitution: administered under the Tokelau Islands Act of 1948, as amended in 1970
Legal system: New Zealand and local statutes
Suffrage: 21 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952); the UK and New Zealand are represented by Administrator Lindsay WATT (since NA March 1993) elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; administrator appointed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade in New Zealand; the head of government is chosen from the Council of Faipule and serves a one- year term head of government: Aliki Faipule Pio TUIA (since NA 2002) cabinet: the Council of Faipule, consisting of three elected leaders - one from each atoll - functions as a cabinet
Legislative branch: unicameral General Fono (48 seats; members chosen by each atoll's Council of Elders or Taupulega to serve three-year terms); note - the Tokelau Amendment Act of 1996 confers limited legislative power on the General Fono
Judicial branch: Supreme Court in New Zealand exercises civil and criminal jurisdiction in Tokelau Political parties and leaders: none Political pressure groups and none
leaders: International organization SPC, UNESCO (associate), WHO
participation: (associate) Diplomatic representation in the US: none (territory of New Zealand) Diplomatic representation from the none (territory of New Zealand)
Flag description: the flag of New Zealand is used Economy Tokelau -
Economy - overview: Tokelau's small size (three villages), isolation, and lack of resources greatly restrain economic development and confine agriculture to the subsistence level. The people rely heavily on aid from New Zealand - about $4 million annually - to maintain public services, annual aid being substantially greater than GDP. The principal sources of revenue come from sales of copra, postage stamps, souvenir coins, and handicrafts. Money is also remitted to families from relatives in New Zealand.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $1.5 million (1993 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: NA%
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $1,000 (1993 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: NA% industry: NA% services: NA% Population below poverty line: NA% Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: NA%
percentage share: highest 10%: NA% Inflation rate (consumer prices): NA%
Labor force: NA
Unemployment rate: NA%
Budget: revenues: $430,830 expenditures: $2.8 million, including capital expenditures of $37,300 (1987 est.)
Industries: small-scale enterprises for copra production, woodworking, plaited craft goods; stamps, coins; fishing Industrial production growth rate: NA% Electricity - production: NA kWh Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: NA% hydro: NA% other: NA% nuclear: NA% Electricity - consumption: NA kWh
Agriculture - products: coconuts, copra, breadfruit, papayas, bananas; pigs, poultry, goats
Exports: $98,000 (f.o.b., 1983)
Exports - commodities: stamps, copra, handicrafts
Exports - partners: NZ
Imports: $323,000 (c.i.f., 1983)
Imports - commodities: foodstuffs, building materials, fuel
Imports - partners: NZ
Debt - external: $0 Economic aid - recipient: from New Zealand about $4 million annually
Currency: New Zealand dollar (NZD)
Currency code: NZD
Exchange rates: New Zealand dollars per US dollar - 2.3535 (January 2002), 2.3776 (2001), 2.1863 (2000), 1.8886 (1999), 1.8632 (1998), 1.5083 (1997)
Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March Communications Tokelau Telephones - main lines in use: NA Telephones - mobile cellular: 0 (2001)
Telephone system: general assessment: adequate domestic: radiotelephone service between islands international: radiotelephone service to Samoa; government- regulated telephone service (TeleTok), with 3 satellite earth stations, established in 1997 Radio broadcast stations: note: each atoll has a radio broadcast station of unknown type that broadcasts shipping and weather reports (1998)
Radios: 1,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .tk Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)
Internet users: NA Transportation Tokelau
Railways: 0 km
Highways: total: NA km paved: NA km unpaved: NA km
Waterways: none
Ports and harbors: none; offshore anchorage only
Merchant marine: none (2002 est.)
Airports: none; lagoon landings are possible by amphibious aircraft (2001) Military Tokelau
Military - note: defense is the responsibility of New Zealand Transnational Issues Tokelau Disputes - international: none

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formerly (1916–46) Union Group

Island territory (pop., 2000 est.: 1,458) of New Zealand, South Pacific Ocean.

Located north of Samoa, Tokelau consists of three coral atolls
Fakaofu, Nukunono, and Atafu
each with numerous low-lying islets. Originally settled by Samoans, the islands were first visited by Europeans in the 18th century. In 1863 Peruvian slave raiders abducted many islanders; the abductions and outbreaks of disease reduced the population to about 200. The British established a protectorate there in 1889. Under the name Union Islands they were part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony from 1916 to 1925, after which New Zealand was granted jurisdiction. The islands became part of New Zealand in 1948. The name Tokelau Islands was adopted in 1946; this was shortened to Tokelau in 1976. In 1994 the powers that had been held by the territory's New Zealand administrator were transferred to the local government on Tokelau.

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also called (1916–46)  Union Group  or (1946–76)  Tokelau Islands 
 island territory of New Zealand, consisting of three atolls in the South Pacific Ocean (Pacific Ocean). Tokelau lies about 300 miles (480 km) north of Samoa and 2,400 miles (3,900 km) southwest of Hawaii. Tokelau does not have a central capital; each atoll has its own administrative centre. Total land area 4.7 square miles (12.2 square km). Pop. (2006) 1,074.

      The Tokelau group's three coral atolls are Fakaofo (1.5 square miles [4 square km]), Nukunonu (1.8 square miles [4.7 square km]), and Atafu (1.4 square miles [3.6 square km]), arranged in a southeast-to-northwest line. Each atoll consists of numerous islets, located on its reef, which falls off sharply a short distance from shore. The lagoons are shallow and dotted with coral outcrops and thus are unnavigable. The islands are low-lying and range from 8 to 15 feet (2.4 to 4.5 metres) above sea level. Their coral-sand soil is highly porous, necessitating rain catchments, traditionally made from hollowed-out coconut-palm trunks. Precipitation averages about 100 inches (2,500 mm), mostly falling during the trade-wind season (April–November), when typhoons (tropical cyclones) occasionally strike, with occasional droughts the rest of the year. The mean average temperature is in the low 80s F (about 28 °C), but it is cooler during the rainy season. Vegetation cover is dense, with about 40 plant species altogether, including coconut palm, pandanus, and other Polynesian trees and shrubs. Wildlife includes rats, lizards, seabirds, and a few migratory birds.

      The people are overwhelmingly Polynesian and are culturally and linguistically linked to Samoa. There are also small numbers of Samoans, Tuvaluans, and people of mixed ethnicity. Tokelauan, a Polynesian language (Polynesian languages), is the official language, but English is widely used. Almost all of the people are Christian, with about seven-tenths Congregational and three-tenths Roman Catholic. Population density is greatest on Atafu. The population has been declining because of emigration to New Zealand and Samoa.

      Tokelau's economy consists largely of subsistence agriculture and fishing. Land tenure is based on kinship lines and land reserved for communal use. Coconuts, grown for copra, are the only cash crop. Taro, grown in special excavated gardens fertilized with leaf compost, and breadfruit, pawpaws, and bananas are subsistence crops. Some pigs and chickens are raised. Fishes and crustaceans are caught in the lagoons for local consumption. In the 1980s New Zealand established a 200-mile (320-km) exclusive economic zone, and a fisheries training program was started by the South Pacific Commission. Tauanave trees are specially grown on selected islets for canoes, houses, and other domestic needs.

      Diesel-powered generators on each atoll, using fuel imported from Samoa, provide most of the electricity, although a small amount of solar power is generated. Manufacturing is restricted to copra production, tuna processing, canoe building, woodworking, and the fabrication of traditional woven hats, mats, and bags. Tokelau's small size, isolation, and lack of resources greatly constrain economic development. Stamp and coin sales raise additional revenue, but Tokelau's budgetary expenses regularly exceed revenue, requiring aid from New Zealand that is substantially greater than Tokelau's gross domestic product. Remittances from the large expatriate community constitute an important source of revenue. The New Zealand dollar is the main currency used, although the Samoan tala is also sometimes used.

      Tokelau's external trade is mainly with New Zealand. Food, building materials, and fuels are the main imports; a small amount of copra is exported. The islands have neither roads nor motor vehicles. There are no navigable passages into the lagoons and hence no good ports. Ships must anchor off the reef and use lighters to transport passengers and goods on and off.

Government and society
      Tokelau is administered as part of New Zealand under the Tokelau Islands Act of 1948, which has been amended several times; Tokelauans have New Zealand citizenship. An administrator is appointed to a three-year term by New Zealand's minister of foreign affairs and trade, but most authority is delegated to the Tokelau Council for Ongoing Government (or Tokelau Council), comprising elected leaders from each of the atolls, from which the head of government (Ulu-o-Tokelau) is selected annually. The meeting place of the Tokelau Council is rotated yearly among the three atolls. Legislative power rests with the General Fono (assembly), whose members are elected every three years by universal adult suffrage and represent the entire territory. The General Fono holds several annual sessions that can take place on any one of the atolls. It handles budgets, exercises a limited rule-making power, and makes recommendations to the New Zealand Parliament. The Tokelau Council takes over these duties when the General Fono is not in session.

      Local government on each atoll is in the hands of the Taupulega (Council of Elders), whose members are the heads of family groups along with two elected members known as the faipule (village leader) and the pulenuku (village mayor). The three faipule and the three pulenuku form the Tokelau Council.

      Each atoll has its own hospital, with a resident doctor. Perennial shortages of fresh water have been partly alleviated by installing water-storage and catchment tanks.

      Education is free and compulsory for children ages 5 to 14, and attendance is nearly 100 percent. Each atoll has a school that provides both primary and secondary education. Secondary, vocational, and higher education is available in Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, New Zealand, and Niue, and scholarships are available for overseas study in several of those countries.

      As indicated by linguistic affinity, Tokelau was probably settled from Samoa, and the small atolls rapidly became densely settled with nucleated villages. The first European visitor, in 1765, was the British commodore John Byron (Byron, John), who gave Atafu the name Duke of York Island. Nukunonu was sighted and named Duke of Clarence Island by Capt. Edward Edwards of HMS Pandora in 1791, while he was searching for the HMS Bounty mutineers. Whalers began visiting the island group in the 1820s, and a thorough survey was made by the United States Exploring Expedition in 1841; its ethnologist, Horatio Hale (Hale, Horatio), gave a detailed report on local customs and language, and the expedition gave Fakaofo the name Bowditch Island. French-sponsored Samoan missionaries converted Nukunonu's people to Roman Catholicism from the mid-1840s, and Samoan missionaries sponsored by the London Missionary Society reached Atafu in 1858; both groups later Christianized Fakaofo.

      In 1863 Peruvian slave raiders abducted many islanders, and roughly contemporary outbreaks of disease reduced the population to about 200. Beachcombers of diverse nationalities subsequently settled and intermarried with Tokelauans. British interest began in 1877, when the high commissioner in Fiji received jurisdiction over British nationals in Tokelau, and in 1889 a protectorate was established. In 1916, under the name Union Group, Tokelau became part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony, and many Tokelauans emigrated to work on Banaba (Ocean Island).

      New Zealand was granted jurisdiction over Tokelau in 1925, administering the group from Western Samoa (now Samoa). The 1948 Tokelau Islands Act made the group part of New Zealand, and cultural and language ties to Samoans led some Tokelauans to migrate to Western Samoa. By the early 1960s migration had begun shifting to New Zealand. In 1976 the group was officially named Tokelau. Although Tokelau is still a territory of New Zealand, Tokelauans have developed institutions and patterns of self-government. In 1994 most of the powers formerly delegated to the territory's New Zealand administrator were transferred to the local government; legislative power formally devolved to the General Fono in 1996. However, Tokelau has not made moves toward full independence. In 2000 New Zealand underlined that it would not impose independence on the territory and that any change in political status would occur only with Tokelau's agreement.

Sophie Foster

Additional Reading
David Stanley, South Pacific, 8th ed. (2004), is a regional guidebook with material on Tokelau. Judith Huntsman and Antony Hooper, Tokelau: A Historical Ethnography (1996), discusses history, social life, and customs. Politics, economics, and history are treated in Judith Huntsman and Kelihiano Kalolo, The Future of Tokelau: Decolonising Agendas, 1975–2006 (2007).Sophie Foster

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Universalium. 2010.

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