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This article is about the New Zealand territory in Oceania. For other meanings, see Tokelau (disambiguation)

Tokelau (ISO 3166-1: TK) is a group of three tropical coral atolls in the South Pacific Ocean, a territory of New Zealand. The islands are occasionally referred to by an older colonial name, The Union Islands.

No coat of arms
(In Detail)
Official language Tokelauan, English
Capital None
Political status Territory of New Zealand
Administrator Neil Walter
 - Total
 - % water

10 km²
 - Total (2001)
 - Density

Dependent area of New Zealand
Currency New Zealand dollar
Time zone UTC -11
National anthem None
Internet TLD .tk


Tokelau was originally settled by Polynesian emigrants from surrounding island groups. The islands were made a British protectorate in 1889, part of the British Colony of the Gilbert & Ellice Islands from 1916 and then transferred to New Zealand administration in 1925. They are still a territory of New Zealand administered under the Tokelau Act of 1948, as amended from 1963 to 1999, and defence is the responsibility of New Zealand. However, the Tokelauans are drafting a constitution, and developing institutions and patterns of self-government as Tokelau moves toward free association with New Zealand, like Niue.


The chief of state is Queen Elizabeth, who is represented by Administrator Neil Walter. The head of government is Patuki Isaako , who presides over the Council of Faipule, consisting of three elected leaders, one from each atoll, which functions as a cabinet. The monarch is hereditary, the administrator appointed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade in New Zealand, and the head of government is chosen from the Council of Faipule for a one-year term.

The Tokelau Amendment Act of 1996 confers legislative power on the General Fono, a unicameral body of 45 seats. Each atoll's Council of Elders or Taupulega chooses 15 representatives to serve three-year terms.

On November 11, 2004, Tokelau and New Zealand took steps to formulate a treaty that would turn Tokelau from a New Zealand territory to a entity that is in free association with New Zealand. Besides drafting a treaty, a UN sponsored "act of self-determination" would have to take place. [1] , [2]


Tokelau is comprised of three clusters of islets in the south Pacific Ocean, about one-half of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand, in Pacific typhoon belt. They include no ports or harbours.

All three constituent parts of the group are coral atolls, and lie between 171 and 173 west and between 8 and 10 South. They are Atafu (formerly known as the Duke of York Group), Nukunonu (formerly the Duke of Clarence Group), and Fakaofo (or Bowditch) Island. Between them they comprise a land area of 10.8 km2.

A fourth island which is geographically, but not politically, part of the Tokelau chain is Swains Island , which has been part of American Samoa since 1935.


Tokelau is a very poor community, with a purchasing power of about $1,000 per capita. The government has revenues of less than $500,000 per year against expenditures of some $2.8 million. The deficit is made up by foreign aid from New Zealand. Tokelau exports around $100,000 of stamps, copra, and handicrafts and imports over $300,000 of foodstuffs, building materials, and fuel to and from New Zealand.

Local industries include small-scale enterprises for copra production, wood work, plaited craft goods, stamps, coins, and fishing. Agriculture and livestock produces coconuts, copra, breadfruit, papayas, and bananas, pigs, poultry, and goats.



Tokelau has fewer than 1500 Polynesian inhabitants living in three villages. They speak the Tokelauan language and the English language. Their isolation and lack of resources greatly restrains economic development and confines agriculture to the subsistence level. The very limited natural resources and overcrowding are contributing to emigration to New Zealand, resulting in a population decline of about 0.9% per year.

On the island of Atafu, all inhabitants are members of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa; on Nukunonu, all are Roman Catholic; on Fakaofo, both denominations are present with the Congregational Christian Church predominant. The total proportions are: Congregational Christian Church 70%, Roman Catholic 28%, other 2%.

Internet domain names

Tokelau has an Internet country code top-level domain (ccTLD), .tk, and gives most domain names under it away to anyone for free. Free domains are pointed to Tokelau nameservers, which redirect HTTP traffic via HTML frames to a specified web page, and redirects 5 email addresses to external addresses. Only paid domains get the option of using a different nameserver (enabling more services, and disabling the web/email forwarding).

Miscellaneous topics

Tokelau has radiotelephone service between the islands and to Samoa and in 1997 established a government-regulated telephone service (TeleTok), with three satellite earth stations. Each atoll has a radio broadcast station that broadcasts shipping and weather reports and nearly every household has a radio.

Since September 2003 the island Fakaofo is the first part of Tokelau with a high-speed internet conection. The service is free for everyone. The Foundation Tokelau finances the project.

See also: Music of Tokelau

External links

  • The Administrator of Tokelau (official government website)
  • Jane's Tokelau Islands Page
  • FAQs About Tokelau
  • Map of Tokelau
  • Dot TK site (.tk domain registrar)
  • IANA contact information for the .tk domain
  • Nukunonu - the website of one of the three atolls
  • Fakaofo - the website of one of the three atolls
  • Jane's Tokelau Islands Page

Countries in Oceania
Australia | East Timor | Fiji | Kiribati | Marshall Islands | Federated States of Micronesia | Nauru | New Zealand | Palau | Papua New Guinea | Samoa | Solomon Islands | Tonga | Tuvalu | Vanuatu
Other political units: American Samoa | Cook Islands | Easter Island | French Polynesia | Guam | Hawaii | Maluku Islands | Midway Atoll | New Caledonia | Niue | Norfolk Island | Northern Mariana Islands | Papua (Indonesia) | Pitcairn Islands | Tokelau | Wake Island | Wallis and Futuna | West Timor

Areas associated with New Zealand
Cook Islands | Niue | Ross Dependency | Tokelau

Last updated: 02-07-2005 06:02:05
Last updated: 02-27-2005 18:56:35