Jurisdiction Project


Tokelau in the South Pacific near the equator is New Zealand’s sole remaining dependency outside of Antarctica. The country remains dependent on foreign aid, largely from NZ, but calls for independence have increased, encouraged by both New Zealand and the United Nations. The public service has been relocated to Tokelau from Samoa, and the general fono council has been granted legislative power. Over the past three decades Tokelau has moved progressively towards its current advanced level of political self-reliance. It has its own unique political institutions, including a national legislative body and Executive Council. It runs its own judicial system and public services. It has its own shipping and telecommunications systems.

Tokelau consists of three atolls with total land area of 12.2 sq km: mostly low-lying coral atolls enclosing large lagoons with total water area of 165 sq km. Atafu: Dubbed Duke of York Island by its first European visitor, British commodore John Byron, Atafu is the smallest and northernmost atoll. Its 42 islets measure a grand total of 3.5 sq km (1.3 sq mi), and the tiny lagoon is 17 sq km (6.5 sq mi); the population is around 500. Fakaofo: named Bowditch Island by an American expedition in 1841, Fakaofo, with 62 islets, is 4 sq km with a lagoon area of 50 sq km. It is not the biggest of the three atolls, but it has the highest population, at around 580. Nukunonu: named Duke of Clarence Island by Captain Edwards of HMS Pandora in 1791, it is the largest atoll, made up of 24 islets totaling 4.7 sq km and a lagoon area of 98 sq km. Coastline: 101 km. Lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m highest point: unnamed location 5 m.

The three atolls are located nine degrees south of the Equator and 480 km away from their nearest neighbour, Western Samoa, in the South Pacific Ocean, about one-half of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand.

Latitude and Longitude:
9 00 S, 172 00 W

Time Zone:
GMT -11

Total Land Area:


Tropical, modified by trade winds from April to November. The atolls lie in the Pacific Cyclone belt. Rainfall is heavy but irregular. A daily fall of 80 mm or more can be expected at any time of the year. Severe tropical storms, once rare, have become more frequent in recent years. Cyclones in 1987,1990 and 1991 caused extensive damage to houses and general infrastructure.

Natural Resources:
Marine resources. Fresh water is plentiful on Fakaofo, Nukunonu has plenty of pandanus trees (used for weaving) and Atafu has stands of kanava trees (an excellent building material).


Total GDP:
1993 1,500,000.00 USD

Per Capita GDP:
2005 1,400.00 USD

% of GDP per Sector:
  Primary Secondary Tertiary

% of Population Employed by Sector
  Primary Secondary Tertiary
1993 0% 18% 82%

External Aid/Remittances:
The people rely heavily on aid from New Zealand - about $4 million annually - to maintain public services, with annual aid being substantially greater than GDP. While money is remitted to families from relatives in New Zealand, there is virtually no cash economy operating in the conventional sense in Tokelau. note: Paid work only exists in government service. Aid from New Zealand: about $4 million annually. The government of Tokelau recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with New Zealand that set out the levels of expected funding for the next 3 years.

Economy openness: Tokelau has a very open economy; however, heavy reliance on aid and foreign investment, to overcome inherent scale and resource limitations, leaves Tokelau vulnerable to external economic and environmental shocks. Tokelau's small size (three villages), isolation, and lack of resources greatly restrain economic development and confine agriculture to the subsistence level. Very few economic initiatives have been attempted in Tokelau. A fish processing plant has been in operation on Atafu since 1990, funded under the FFA/US Tuna Treaty. The facility processes fresh tuna into marinated, sun-dried tuna jerky. A UNDP/FAO aquaculture programme has approved a financial contribution towards the transplant of black pearl oysters from Manihiki in the Cook Islands to Tokelau. In July 2001, a business training programme began as part of the Modern House of Tokelau project. It was a proposal by the Samoa Business Enterprise Centre and entailed a two-phase project which was to culminate in September with Tokelau business people selling goods at Samoa’s Teuila Festival. The training included an introduction to gender awareness, basic business management and customer service. In 2002 the Council of Faipule adopted a vision statement entitled “The Quality of Life for People living in Tokelau” and identified three areas of national priority which have the potential for economic development. Compiled in a Sustainable Strategic Development plan for 2002-2004 and beyond, the plan stressed commercial fisheries, successful businesses and critical infrastructure. [The Council was to review progress in these three areas at the end of each year, however, no such reviews could be found.] Economy (1980): $478 AUS; (1993)$1.5 million USD. Per capita: (1993)$1,000 AUS; (2005)$1,900 AUS. External Budget: revenues: $430,800; expenditures: $2.8 million, including capital expenditures of $37,300 (1987 est.); 1991/92: $6 million. Debt - external: $0.

Labour Force:
2003 438
2001 142
1996 486
1991 424

Year: Unemployment Rate (% of pop.)

Fishing, coconuts, copra, breadfruit, papayas, bananas; pigs, poultry, goats, small-scale enterprises for copra production, woodworking, plaited craft goods; stamps, coins. Labour Force by Industry: Construction M76, F2, Tot 78; Retail Trade M8, F4, T12; Hotels, Restaurants M2, F2, T4; Transport M6, F1, T7; Communication/Other services M10, F10, T20; Village Services M115, F67, T182; Public Administration M33, F26, T59; Education M21, F32, T53; Medical, Dental M5, F18, T23; Total M 276, F 162, Tot 438. Note: All records show that the government is the only recorded employer in the jurisdiction. The sources consulted conducted jurisdiction-wide surveys to achieve results however, this is not recorded in any official New Zealand statistics.

Niche Industry:
postage stamps, coins and plaited craft goods.

Tourism is almost non-existent in Tokelau, with transportation difficult. Visitor permits are issued by the Tokelau Apia Liaison Office in Samoa (20.00 for a one-month stay); consent to visit must be given by the village taupulega, accommodation must be arranged prior to departure and a return ticket to Samoa must be booked. Accommodation must be arranged before you arrive in Tokelau, either with a hotel or local family. There are two places to stay on Nukunonu, and one place each on Fakaofo and Atafu; facilities are basic. Camping is allowed on the atolls' more remote islets but permission must be obtained prior to, as all the islands are owned.


Imports and Exports:

External Budget: revenues: $430,800; expenditures: $2.8 million, including capital expenditures of $37,300 (1987 est.); 1991/92 $6 million. There is no further data on exports and imports. Exports: Tokelau has no means of mass export at this stage. Exportation of dried copra and handicrafts ceased more than few decades ago, mainly due to decline in price and transportation. (April 2004); Former Partners: New Zealand (2000); Former Commodities: stamps, copra, handicrafts; note: There are very few possibilities for export revenue generation. Small amounts of copra are exported as well as handicraft, coins and stamps, however this market is minimal and in decline. Black pearls are to be introduced from the Cook Islands as a potential trade item. Imports: NZ$2.087 million for year ended December 2002; Partners: New Zealand (2000); Commodities: foodstuffs, building materials, fuel; Imports 1999 1,110,152; 2000 1,762,310; 2001 1,846,083; 2002 2,087,696; (Source: Department Store, Tokelau Apia based Office. Note: These estimates are based on the value of goods shipped to shops in Tokelau and does not include private household imports.)

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Number of Airports:
Air: none; lagoon landings are possible by amphibious aircraft (2003)

Number of Main Ports:
There are no seaports. Landing conditions at the main settlements of all three atolls require occasional blasting of the coral to provide adequate small boat channels through the reef. Larger vessels normally anchor about 360 m from the channel entrances to load and off-load cargo. Sea: A boat departs Apia in West Samoa every two weeks or a trip to all three atolls of Tokelau. The trip is 42 hours. There are no ports or harbors, only offshore anchorage. For safety reasons, Tokelauans are forbidden to travel independently between the three atolls by the General Fono. The fortnightly run of a boat is the only means of inter-atoll travel. Extra boat trips have been funded this year by New Zealand. Reports indicate fortnightly shipping services from Apia will be further improved. Starting July 2004, the MV Tokelau and the Lady Naomi (or equivalent boat) have alternated every fortnight. This is meant to allow the MV Tokelau to provide more inter-atoll transport. Tokelau and New Zealand have committed to look at improving shipping services for Tokelau in the long term.



Land: There is no land auto transportation. A few all terrain vehicles that run coral tracks are the main forms of transport. The tiny, fragmented size of the settlements means walking is often the most reliable way of getting between points.

Travelling within an atoll is fine by aluminum dinghy or the more-traditional kanava outrigger canoe, the preferred choice on Atafu.

Other Forms of Transportation:

Economic Zones:
The sale of fishing licences for Tokelau's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) now provides an important source of domestic revenue. Tokelau is a member of the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), which works, among other things, to achieve a significant increase in the economic value of the tuna industry in association with the sustainable management of the fishery. The work of the Agency aims to achieve this objective through a range of activities including: a) work on tuna management, particularly the development of national management plans and advice to countries on management implications associated with the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention; b) advice to members on appropriate policies necessary to promote domestic industry development and the economic evaluation of tuna industry development projects; c) advice to members on maximizing returns from foreign fishing access and licensing arrangements; and d) the provision of information on international tuna markets.

Energy Policy:

Year Total Energy Production (Mwh) Thermic (Mwh) Geothermic (Mwh) Other (Mwh) Total Energy Consumption (Mwh) Domestic (Mwh) Commercial (Mwh) Public Service (Mwh) Industry (Mwh) Public Lighting (Mwh)


Official Currency:
New Zealand dollar (NZD)

Banking and Insurance:
Number of Banks and Credit Unions: 0
Number of Agricultural Credit Unions: 0
Number of Insurance Companies: 0

 New Zealand dollar (NZD) New Zealand currency and the Tokelau souvenir coin are legal tender in Tokelau but Western Samoan currency is also used. The first Tokelau souvenir coin was minted in 1978 and four others have followed. There are no banks on Tokelau. In the absence of banking facilities, the Office of Tokelau Affairs provides a deposit and withdrawal facility, and pays interest on accounts.

Financial Services:
There are no banks nor other financial institutions on the island.

Isolation remains a factor. The atolls currently rely on a five-weekly supply ship from Western Samoa and have no air service. Improvements such as the inter-atoll ferry and satellite telecommunications system have gone some small way toward easing Tokelau's isolation. The atolls first working telecommunications network was established in April 1997. Each atoll has a satellite that connects the island to the phone systems in New Zealand. The equipment installed can handle four simultaneous phone connections over this satellite connection. The same satellite dish is used to connect the atolls to Los Angeles, USA for high speed internet. Radiotelephone is available between atolls. In 2002 FM radio stations were inaugurated on each of the three atolls. In September 2003, a meeting with the Council of the Elderly endorsed the idea of the internet for the purposes of advanced communications, as well as the ideas of medical aid (Telemedicine) and educational advancement. The High Speed Internet project, currently underway, is called Foundation Tokelau and is financed and established by private corporate donations and the Netherlands. It is a joint project between members of the community in Tokelau and the academic world.

Public Ownership:
The Government of Tokelau owns the power company through Tokelau Public Works Department. There is also Telecommunications Tokelau Corporation (Teletok), which is a community-owned corporation designed to operate in a not-for-profit manner. Teletok has monopoly rights to provide telecommunication in Tokelau.

Land Use:
Largest land use listed as ‘other’ at 100% (2001). There is no arable land or land used for permanent crops as the soil is thin and infertile. The Tokelau Amendment Act 1967 clearly laid out the rules of land ownership in Tokelau. It states that “it shall not be lawful or competent for a Tokelauan to make any alienation or disposition of Tokelauan land, or of any interest in Tokelauan land, whether by way of sale, lease, licence, mortgage, or otherwise howsoever, other than an alienation or disposition in favour of the Crown, nor shall Tokelauan land or any interest therein be capable of being taken in execution or be assets for the payment of the debts of a Tokelauan on his death or insolvency.” The act also prohibits the contract of sale of crops, timber, minerals, or other valuable things attached to forming part of any Tokelauan land. The act also allows Tokelauans to dispose of Tokelauan land amongst themselves according to the customs and usages of the Tokelauan inhabitants of Tokelau.

The physical characteristics of the atolls allow very little scope for economic development and the few natural resources are sufficient only to meet the needs of the people. Apart from the manufacture of copra, agricultural products are of a basic subsistence nature. Food crops consist of coconuts, pulaka, breadfruit, taamu, papaya, edible padanus fruit and bananas. Many other seeds have been tested but because of the poverty of the soil very poor results have been achieved. Crops, particularly coconut trees, must be protected from the Polynesian rat and the rhinoceros beetle. Livestock consists of pigs, poultry and goats. Attempts to improve the local swine stock have achieved some positive results. Exotic breeds have been interbred with local pigs to produce new bloodlines.

Marine Activity:

territorial sea: 12 nm, exclusive economic zone: 200 nm. The sale of fishing licences for Tokelau's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) now provides an important source of domestic revenue. Ocean and lagoon fish and shellfish are available in quantity and form a staple constituent of the diet. A fish processing plant has been in operation on Atafu since 1990 with funding under the FFA/US Tuna Treaty. The facility processes fresh tuna into marinaded, sun-dried tuna jerky. Trochus stocks on Fakaofo have been replenished with specimens from Aitutaki in the Cook Islands. The project has also been extended to cover Nukunonu and Atafu. A UNDP/FAO aquaculture programme has approved a financial contribution towards the transplant of black pearl oysters from Manihiki in the Cook Islands to Tokelau.

Marine Life:
Conservation of Tokelau's natural resources has so far been achieved through traditional practices. The traditional "lafu" system, which prohibits the harvesting and disturbance of a particular land or marine resource, is still practised. This system is imposed and policed by the Council of Elders who are the traditional authority on each atoll. An Agriculture and Fisheries Committee was established in 1984 to supplement and complement the work of the Council of Elders in resource management. This Committee has imposed various restrictions on the harvesting of giant clams and taking of turtle eggs. The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has facilitated resource surveys and provided scientific information to support conservation and resource management. Recently, however, there have been difficulties with the traditional system, largely as a result of a general reduction in the authority of the Council of Elders.

Critical Issues:
1. Emigration: Chronic overcrowding remains a huge problem, especially with the shadow of global warming potentially threatening the islands' survival. Very limited natural resources and overcrowding are contributing to emigration to New Zealand. New Zealand's Tokelaun population is approximately 5,000. 2. Environmental Issues: Tokelau's major environmental problems include: overexploitation of certain fish and other marine species, coastal sand, its (albeit tiny) forest resources; pollution of freshwater lenses from improper disposal of chemicals and coastal waters from both land-based sources and shipping; and due to the country's limited space, a serious solid waste disposal problem. Other environmental concerns include frequent storms and cyclones, climate change and sea-level rise, and the need to improve environmental awareness, education, planning, management, and legislation, as well as to integrate environmental and development policies.


Country name: Tokelau; previous name: Union Group. Capital: none; each atoll has its own administrative centre and local government(taupulega).

Political System:
Self-governing parliamentary democracy. Tokelau’s chief of State is Queen Elizabeth II (Since February 6, 1952). Currently the people of Tokelau are undergoing a devolution programme. Emphasis is currently on: a) institutional aspects including information exchange (confidentiality, communications channels), policy and legislation developments (good governance) and public education and awareness. b) improvement and upgrading of governance, village structure. c) developing a more cohesive and efficient public service. Legal System: The villages have the statutory power to enact their own laws covering village affairs. Supreme Court in New Zealand exercises the highest civil and criminal jurisdiction in Tokelau, however under the current “Good Governance Project” the Tokelaun government is training a judiciary, police force, prosecutors, and court clerks. These actions are in concert with many jurisdictions in the Pacific looking to improve local law enforcement. There are currently three police officers on each island, and local courts administer a legal system which is based on New Zealand Law with due recognition to local custom. Punishment generally takes the form of public rebukes, fines or labour. The Tokelau Police Regulations Act of 1989 established the rules and procedures for a Tokelau police force. Internal Government: The internal government consists of a unicameral General Fono. It currently has 21 members. Electoral reforms in January of 1999 created a General Fono of six members from each village, 18 all together, elected by popular vote to serve three-year terms. Two of the elected delegates to the General Fono must be nominated by designated groups in the village: women and the aumaga (the workforce of able-bodied men) The 3 island village mayors [pulenuku]) (the latter added in electoral reform in 1999) are elected within the first four members elected. At the General Fono of November 2001 it was decided that representation within the Fono would be changed based on the results of the 2001 census. As such Nukunonu currently has 6 members and Fakaofo and Atafu 7 and 8 respectively. Both Faipule and Pulenuku automatically become members of the General Fono. The Council of Faipule, consisting of three elected leaders - one from each atoll, functions as the cabinet of Tokelau. There are no elections for head of state. The head of state is chosen from the Council of Faipule, and rotates between members of the cabinet on an annual basis. note - the Tokelau Amendment Act of 1996 confers limited legislative power on the General Fono. An administrator is appointed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade in New Zealand. Associated Power: Tokelau is currently a self-administering territory of New Zealand; note - Tokelauans are drafting a constitution and developing institutions and patterns of self-government as Tokelau moves toward free association with New Zealand. Unless it is expressly extended to Tokelau, New Zealand statute law does not apply to the territory. In practice, no New Zealand legislation is extended to Tokelau without Tokelauan consent. Financial statements, as required by law, to be presented to the Parliament of New Zealand. Before that, however, they must be audited by the Audit office of New Zealand. The Government of New Zealand is represented by the Administrator of Tokelau, a statutory position appointed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade to provide support to Tokelau and be technically responsible for the administration of the executive government of Tokelau. The Administrator’s authority is set out in the Tokelau Act 1948 (as amended) and the Tokelau Administration Regulations 1993. In June 2004, the Administrator delegated his powers to the three Village Councils (Taupulega), which in turn sub-delegated to the General Fono (national law-making body) authority to deal with those matters needing to be addressed at national level eg shipping, fisheries policy. Currently Tokelau, as a non-self-governing territory, remains on the list of such territories compiled by the UN Special Committee on Decolonisation (“C24”). Consistent with New Zealand’s obligation, in terms of Article 73 of the UN Charter, New Zealand has committed to work with Tokelau towards an act of self-determination. Judicial Branch: Supreme Court in New Zealand exercises civil and criminal jurisdiction in Tokelau, however under the current “Good Governance Project” the Tokelaun government is training a judiciary, police force, prosecutors, and court clerks. These actions are in concert with many jurisdictions in the Pacific looking to improve local law enforcement.

Political Parties:

Important Legislation:
Constitution: Tokelau is administered under the Tokelau Islands Act of 1948, as amended in 1970, 1974 and 1980. In 1996, the New Zealand Parliament amended the 1948 Act to confer on the General Fono limited legislative power, giving Tokelau in practice a large measure of administrative and political autonomy. Treaties: Joint Statement of the Principles of Partnership Between New Zealand and Tokelau: on November 21, 2003, the New Zealand and Tokelau Governments signed a Principles of Partnership document affirming their ongoing relationship. The document highlighted the right of Tokelau to self-determination and the responsibility of New Zealand to facilitate that process in Tokelau’s best interests. It also emphasized provisions for New Zealand’s economic assistance including “recognition that Tokelau is entitled to a good and satisfactory standard of services and infrastructure, and that this entitlement will be interpreted in the light of the local context (including the size of Tokelau’s population, its remoteness, the physical separation of the three atolls and the fact that the administrations of Tokelau and New Zealand are separate)” The Tokelau Amendment Act of 1970 gives the High Court of Niue jurisdiction in Tokelau. This act gave the High Court of Niue jurisdiction to administer all laws of Tokelau, whether civil or criminal, in the same manner in all respects as if that jurisdiction had been conferred upon that Court as a separate Court of justice in and for Tokelau. Within this act as well the Supreme Court of New Zealand was given jurisdiction as well. It states: “(1) The High Court of Niue shall have all jurisdiction, whether civil or criminal, which may be necessary to administer the laws of Tokelau in the same manner in all respects as if that jurisdiction had been conferred upon that Court as a separate Court of justice in and for Tokelau.(2) In the exercise of the jurisdiction conferred on it by this section, the High Court of Niue may sit either in Tokelau or in Niue.(3) Notwithstanding anything in this Part of this Act, a Commissioner of the High Court of Niue or a Justice of the Peace for Niue appointed under Part III of the Niue Act 1966 shall not exercise any jurisdiction in respect of Tokelau.” Tokelau Telecommunication Rules 1996: Legislation passed that created Teletok. The first legislation to be passed by the General Fono under the new powers given to it through the New Zealand Tokelau Amendment Act 1996. Tokelau Amendment Act 1967: Created the Tokelau Public Service. Delegated powers and duties of the service. The Act also set guidelines for the ownership, usage and sale of all land on the atolls. Finally this act separated the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony from Tokelau. As of this Act, the following ordinances did not apply to Tokelau: (a) The Native Lands Ordinance 1917; (b) The Native Lands Amendment Ordinance 1919; (c) The Gilbert and Ellice Native Lands Ordinance 1922; (d) The Native Land (Amendment) Ordinance 1935. Tokelau (Territorial Sea and Fishing Zone) Act 1976: This act established the internal waters and territorial seas of Tokelau. It also established a fishing zone that begins at the end of the territorial sea and extends 9 nautical miles from the nearest point of the territorial sea line known as the inner limit line. It establishes that no foreign fishing boat shall engage in fishing the territorial sea or fishing zone of Tokelau and establishes consequences for such action ranging from a $500 fine, to the forfeiture of the beat and any “fish, tackle, engines, nets, gear, apparatus, cargo and stores.”

Principal Taxes:
Some internal revenue is derived from taxes on handicraft, shipping, copra, freight charges, the sale of postage stamps and coins, customs duties and service charges on remittances. There is a mention of taxes on things such as remittances and imports as part of the Tokelau budget, however, no evidence of this could be found at the time. No evidence of any taxes could be found for Tokelau.

Associated Power:
New Zealand

Tokelauans are citizens of New Zealand which gives them free right of access to that country. In the 1960s and early 1970s, the New Zealand Government operated the Tokelauan Resettlement Scheme to overcome crowding on the atolls. Many families migrated to New Zealand and later sponsored others who wanted to emigrate. The scheme was suspended in 1976 when the population stabilised. Currently some 5,000 Tokelauans live in New Zealand; other small communities can be found in Western Samoa, American Samoa and Hawai'i.

Tokelau is a member of UNESCO (associate) and UPU. New Zealand has overall responsibility for Tokelau's foreign relations, although Tokelau maintains links with Pacific countries and territories through membership, in its own right, of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), and is an associate member of the World Health Organisation (WHO). Tokelau has an office in Samoa - the Tokelau Apia Liaison Office - which acts as a contact point with the region. In 1996 Tokelau signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Tuvalu identifying areas, such as shipping, fisheries, people movement and human resource development, in which the two neighbours might cooperate.


1,405 (July 2004 est.); 1,418 (2003 est.); 1515 (2001 Census); 1507 (1996); 1600 (1994 est.). Note: overpopulation has been a central concern for Tokelau.

Island Area (km sq.) Population % of Total Population
Atafu 3 500 %
Fakaofo 4 580 %
Nukunonu 4 365 %

0-14 years: 42%; 15-64 years: 53%; 65 years and over: 5% (2004 est.). Median age: 20.3 (1996).

Year Resident Population

Age of Population: 0-14 15-24 25-49 50-64 65 and up


Pop. growth rate: -0.01% (2004 est.); -0.90% (1996). Net migration rate: -34% (1996).

Crude Birth Rate:
2004 22%

Life Expedctancy:
male: 68 years; female: 70 years (2004 est.).

Crude Death Rate:
2004 7%


Class Division:

Tokelauan (a Polynesian language related to Samoan and Tuvaluan), English (taught as a second language and widely understood).

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.


Education System:
Adult learning centres have been established on each of the atolls with the aim of developing youth programmes to assist school leavers and to provide appropriate courses for adults. These programmes focus on developing traditional skills such as carving and weaving. Courses are also undertaken in nursing (often in Western Samoa, Fiji, and New Zealand), marine training, typing, telecommunications, and as dental and laboratory technicians. Tokelau is serviced by the University of the South Pacific (USP) extension centre in Western Samoa, as well as universities in New Zealand.

Total Pre-schools:(2003)
Total Primary Schools  
First Level:
Second Level:
Third Level:
Total Secondary Schools: 3
Total Professional Schools


Number of Schools per Island:


Students Enrolled:


Each of the three atolls has modern schools under the administration of the education department of the public service. Each atoll community has a primary and secondary school. Education is available free to all children between 5 and 18 and attendance is close to 100%. There are pre-school classes in each village. There are 43 teachers and 13 teachers’ aids in Tokelau and VSA volunteers have been establishing science programs, providing in-service training and developing a pre-school curriculum.

Medical Services:
Each of the three atolls has a hospital which, in conjunction with the referral service to Western Samoa, provides primary health care to the community. Each hospital is well equipped with drugs and medical and surgical instruments. Only very basic laboratory tests can be undertaken. Each of the three atoll hospitals are manned by a Medical Officer, 4-5 staff nurses, 1 dental nurse, 4-5 nurse aides. There are only three dentists working in Tokelau at the moment. The only X-Ray facility is available in the Nukunonu hospital. The department also has an office in the Tokelau Apia Liaison Office (TALO) in Samoa. Its main purpose is to facilitate referral patients to Samoa and New Zealand. It is envisioned in the future that it would serve as the storage and distributing point of the medical supplies. Currently, it deals only with emergency supplies. The doctor's ratio is 757.5, the dentists is 757.5, and the nurses is 151.5. Just recently there are 2 doctors on the atolls. Tokelau relies heavily on the locum scheme in recruiting doctors. This practice will go on for another 5-10 years. The health department is also involved in public preventative health services. There are ongoing programmes to upgrade water supplies nad sanitation services. Women’s committees on each atoll actively participate in maternal and child health programmes in association with medical personnel. Each Taupulega (Council of Elders of each atoll) are assisted in their work by its Nuku Health Committee. The Health Committees on each atoll are made up of members of the Taupulega, Health Services, Fatupaepae (village leaders), Aumaga and Youth and Sports Group, and provide a venue for community input into the development of Nuku health services. The role of these Health Committees is to provide advice to Taupulega. The main roles of the Health Departmyent is to provide advice to the Minister of Health, to develop national health policies, and to support the three Nuku health services. The Heath Department coordinates the overseas training of health workers, undertakes locum doctor recruitment for the atolls, and, in consultation with the Taupulega, coordinates the lending of staff from one atoll to another in times of need. It purchases drugs, supplies and equipment on behalf of the three Nuku, and provides specialist x-ray and ultrasound scanning services. It also manages the Patient Referral Scheme for people who need treatment that is not available in Tokelau to receive it in Samoa or New Zealand. The funding for health care service is from three sources: 1. National Budget, which is made Zealand Government as part of its constitutional responsibility to Tokelau. 2. An annual program support grant from New Zealand external aid division. 3. Assistance from international aid agencies like the WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, and the Australian Overseas Aid Agency (AusAid).


 Tokelau's atolls have been thought to be populated for around 1000 years, with traditional tales linking the original Polynesian settlers with Samoa, the Cook Islands and Tuvalu. Oral history traces local histories and genealogies as early as the 19th century. The three atolls were reputed to have something of a fierce aversion to domination from outsiders until the Tokelau wars of the 18th century, when Fakaofo conquered Atafu and Nukunonu to create the first united entity of Tokelau. The first Europeans to visit the islands were Commodore John Byron in 1765 (Atafu) and the sailors of the US American whaler General Jackson in 1835 (Fakaofo). As was the custom, missionaries soon followed, with Catholic Samoans converting the people of Nukunonu in the 1840s, Protestant Samoans converting Atafu in 1858 and the two groups later battling for the citizens of Fakaofo. The atolls' already minuscule populations were drastically reduced to a mere 200 in the 1850s and 60s when Peruvian slave traders seized around 250 people; 500 islanders were removed by missionaries; and diseases such as dysentery took hold. During this time, beachcombers, American, Portuguese, Scottish, French and German, as well as Polynesian immigrants, settled and intermarried with local women. Contact with the Europeans led to some significant changes in Tokelauan society. Trading ships brought new foods, cloth and materials as well as exposure to new information and ways of doing things. In 1877 the British high commissioner for the Western Pacific in Fiji was given jurisdiction over British subjects in the Tokelaus. The islands were annexed by Britain in 1889, and incorporated into the new crown colony of Gilbert & Ellice Islands (today's Kiribati and Tuvalu) in 1916, by which time they were known as the Union Group. Many Tokelauans headed off to work the phosphate mines of Banaba, Fiji. The islands have been administered by New Zealand since 1925, and were included within its territorial boundaries in 1948. The name Tokelau Islands was given in 1946, and contracted to Tokelau in 1976. In 1980 the Tokelau Administration Regulations gave the minister the power to appoint the Administrator for the island. The issue of self-government, similar to that of Niue or the Cook Islands, has been an issue since 1993.


Recent Significant Events:
Political and Constitutional Changes: The Modern House initiative or governance project was established in June 2000 and has continued to move gradually from the planning to implementation stage. The focus is on efforts to make the traditional village leadership the basis for future government. The programme stressed constitutional development, management and operational structures and employer responsibility. It also focused on capacity development, specifically the review of national and village administrations. Finally, it also included national and village sustainable development plans. The Special Committee on the Constitution met in October 2003. Its proposals were put to the November 2003 General Fono for consideration. The proposals endorsed by the General Fono were: a) Powers of the General Fono and the Council of Ongoing Government are sourced from delegated powers of and by the three Taupulega. These relate to functions that the three taupulega have collectively delegated to these two bodies for them to carry out on behalf of the nation. b) Village representation in the General Fono will be in proportion with the population of the village such that there will be 2 representatives from each village and one representative per 100 based on the population given in the recent census. c) Each village will determine their own election system and each Taupulega to set the voting age. d) Increase the membership of the Council from three to six by including the three Pulenuku. e) Appointment of a Chairperson for the General Fono for one year. Kuresa Nasau, former Faipule of Atafu, has been appointed the Chairperson for this year. Public Sector Reform: Tokelau began a comprehensive restructuring of their Public Service in 2004. The transfer of their Public Service from Samoa to the three atolls was made official on July 1, 2004. To date they have created the Senior Management team, which is made up of senior public administrators from all atolls, and meets on a weekly basis to review the services. The Government of New Zealand, in cooperation with the United Nations has been attempting to create a more focused national public service for Tokelau including improvements in the heath, education, shipping and economic development.

Music, Dance, Handicraft and Patrimony:



ABC Radio Australia “Places – Tokelau” Charting the Pacific. ABC/Cinemdeia, 2005. Available online: http://www.abc.net.au/ra/pacific/places/country/tokelau.htm#facts Viewed on: March 3, 2005; Angelo, Tony. “To be of not to be… Integrated, that is the problem of Islands.” Revue Juridique Polynésienne. Numéro Hors Série. (2002) Vol 2. pp. 87-108; Australian Government. Tokelau Country Brief – November 2004. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. [Online Serial] Available FTP: http://www.dfat.gov.au/geo/tokelau/ Viewed on: March 3, 2005; CIA. CIA World Factbook – Tokelau. [Online Serial] Available FTP: http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/tl.html Viewed on: March 3, 2005; Government of New Zealand. “Statement by the Deputy Representative of New Zealand Mr. Rim McIvor.” Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee) General Debate on All Decolonization Items. (4 October 2004) Available FTP: http://nzmissionny.org/decolon.htm Viewed on: March 3, 2005 ; Government of New Zealand. “Statement by the Permanent Representative of New Zealand H.E. Mr. Don MacKay.” Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee) General Debate on All Decolonization Items. (7 October 2003) Available FTP: http://nzmissionny.org/decolon.htm Viewed on: March 3, 2005; Government of Tokelau. Tokelau. [Online Serial] Available online: http://www.tokelau.org.nz/ Viewed on: March 3, 2005 (note: This source appears very outdated); Government of Tokelau. Fakatiu: Newsletter of Tokelau’s Public Service: Issue No. 1, Vol 1. October 2004 [Online Serial] Available online: http://www.tokelau.org.nz/ Viewed on: March 3, 2005; Government of Tokelau. Role of the office of Administrator of Tokelau. [Online Serial] Available online: http://www.tokelau.org.nz/ Viewed on: March 3, 2005; Government of Tokelau. The Tokelau Amendment Act 1970. [Online Serial] Available online: http://www.tokelau.org.nz/Government/law3.htm Viewed on: March 13, 2005; Governments of Tokelau and New Zealand. Joint Statement of the Principles of Partnership Between New Zealand and Tokelau. Malo Tokelau, 2004. Available Online: http://www.tokelau.org.nz/; Hughes, Helen. “The Pacific is Viable!” Issue Analysis. (2 December 2004) No. 53 Available FTP: http://www.cis.org.au/IssueAnalysis/ia53/IA53.htm Viewed on: March 5, 2005; Infoplease. “New Zealand - Cook Islands and Overseas Territories” Almanacs. [Online Serial] Available FTP: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107838.html Viewed on: March 3, 2005; Infoplease. “Tokelau” Encyclopedia. [Online Serial] Available FTP: http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/world/A0848962.html Viewed on: March 3, 2005; Ingram, Derek. “Tokelau” Round Table (October 1996) Issue 340, pp. 418; Lonley Planet World Guide. Tokelau. [Online Serial] Available FTP: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/pacific/tokelau/ Viewed on: March 3, 2005. McNeill, Robin G. “Design and construction of a telecommunication network for remote Pacific atolls” IPENZ Transactions. (1998) Vol. 25 No. 1/GEN pp. 12-19 Available PDF: http://www.ipenz.org.nz/ipenz/publications/transactions/Transactions98/general/3mcneill.PDF Viewed on: March 5, 2005; Modern House of Tokelau. The Tokelau Amendment Act 1967. (2000) Available FTP: http://www.tokelau.org.nz/Government/law2.htm Viewed on: March 13, 2005; Nukuro, Ezekiel Dr. “A Glimpse at the Pacific Island Countries’ Population, Development and Environmental Issues.” Presented at the Millennium Media Conference on the Environment. (24-28 July) Mocambo Hotel Nadi, Fiji Islands. Available Online: http://www.spc.org.nc/popadvocacy/A%20GLIMPSE%20AT%20THE%20PICS%20(PAPER).SVP.htm Viewed on: March 17, 2005; Office of the Administrator of Tokelau. Te Vakai New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2004. Available online: http://www.tokelau.org.nz/. Office of the Administrator of the Administrator, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Tokelau Country Paper - July 2004. New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2004. Available online: http://www.mfat.govt.nz/foreign/tokelau/country/tokelau.html#General%A0 Viewed on: March 13, 2005; PacificBasin Communications Inc. “ Pacific 2005: Tokelau” Pacific Magazine [Online Serial] Availble FTP: http://www.pacificislands.cc/pmalmanac/pmprofile.php?pmalmanacid=0020 Viewed on: March 10, 2005; Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute. “New Zealand-Legislation” Pacific Law Materials. Available FTP: http://www.vanuatu.usp.ac.fj/paclawmat/New_Zealand_legislation/NZ_Tokelau_Act.html Viewed on: March 13, 2005; Secretariat of the Pacific Community. Tokelau: Statistics Unit. [Online Serial] Available FTP: http://www.spc.int/prism/country/tk/stats/ Viewed on: March 3, 2005; Teletok and Taloha Inc. and the Government of Tokelau. Dot TK [Online Serial] Available FTP: http://www.dot.tk/vc00904.html. Viewed on: March 6, 2005; Ulack, Richard. “Pacific Islands” Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2005 [Online Serial] Available FTP: http://encarta.msn.com/text_761595628__1/Pacific_Islands.html Viewed on: March 3, 2005. United Nations Secretariat. Tokelau: Working Paper. United Nations General Assembly: Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. (5 April 2002) A/AC.109/2002/6 ; Unknown, “Holding on to Nanny” Economist (11/21/1992) Vol. 325, pp. 44; Wetlands International. “Tokelau” A Directory of Wetlands in Oceania. Available FTP: http://www.wetlands.org/inventory&/OceaniaDir/Tokelau.htm Viewed on: March 15, 2005;


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