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Tokelau 1983DD Heraldic badge of Tokelau
MottoTokelau Mo Te Atua
CapitalNone; each atoll has its own administrative centre.
Official languages Tokelauan, English
Demonym Tokelauan
 -  Administrator David Payton
 -  Head of Government Foua Toloa
ANZC Associate State
 -  Tokelau Act 1948 
 -  Total 11.5 km2 (228th)
5.6 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) negligible
 -   estimate 1,853 
Currency ANZ Dollar

Tokelau is an Associated State of the Commonwealth of Australia and New Zealand; like some other associated states, it remains highly dependent on ANZ and cannot be said to be fully self-governing. It consists of four atolls: Atafu, Nukunonu, Fakaofo, and Olohega. Olohega, also called Swains Island, was a part of American Samoa until 1996. On April 22 of that year, the American Provisional Administration transferred the island to Tokelau, making it the last piece of territory under APA sovereignty.



The nation was not a target on Doomsday but was mostly cut off from the rest of the world for several years.


The people of Tokelau survived fairly well due to local fishing, coconuts, clams, conchies and tropical fruits in the time after doomsday. The goods of modern society were sorely missed, however. The state struggled, and there was a period of crime and unrest that lasted about 18 months. Eventually the villages regained control and Tokelau recovered its stability.

A lost Hawaiian yacht arrived about a month after Doomsday and the 4 yachtsmen then stayed, representing the entirety of Tokelau's foreign refugee influx.

Contact with New Zealand was irregular for many years. During the 1980s, supplies could come every few months, sometimes less. These infrequent aid packages contained food, dry-board, hand tools and medicine.

The Commonwealth and Associated Status[]

Since New Zealand for years had been unable to provide for the islands, it extended several times an offer to change its status to one of Free Association rather than that of an External Territory. The islands rejected this, instead consistently expressing a desire to return to the former relationship with New Zealand. A 1996 referendum saw a 56%-44% majority vote in favor of the change, not enough to meet the two-thirds threshold that was required.

The 1995 creation of the Commonwealth of Australia and New Zealand resulted in a reshuffling of many islands' relationships with the larger countries, and the new Commonwealth began pressuring Tokelau to accept a change in status to match other island groups. By this time, the islands had in fact been governing themselves for more than a decade, and it became clear that a nominally different status would not substantially change the daily life or functioning of the country. The Treaty of Free Association was finally approved in 2001, following the model of Norfolk Island, which had also accepted a Free Association status while remaining highly dependent on Australia for many things.


Tokelau still has a Administrator based off island to coordinate its affairs. In the late 90s this office moved from Wellington to Samoa. The Administrator works with a council designated by Tokelau's legislature, the General Fono.

The General Fono functions as a parliament. It is composed of the Fono of each atoll meeting together yearly. Much of the day-to-day work of government takes place at the level of the individual atolls.

The Commonwealth of Australia and New Zealand is almost entirely responsible for Tokelau's external affairs and defense. Tokelau engages in diplomacy on its own behalf only through the Oceanic Organisation and its regional agencies. It is not a member of the League of Nations.


Tokelau has a population of around 1800. Before 1983 the population had been declining as people migrated to New Zealand, a pattern matched in several other small Pacific islands. The disruptions of Doomsday and World War III slowed this migration, and the population has risen slowly since then. Tokelau's isolation and lack of resources greatly limits economic development and confines agriculture to the subsistence level. Fluctuating stocks of tuna can make fishing difficult.

The nationals of Tokelau are called Tokelauans, and the major ethnic group is Polynesian. The country has no minorities. The main language Tokelauan is closely related to Samoan, Tuvaluan, and a group of other languages within the larger Polynesian family. English is also widely spoken; education is bilingual.

On the island of Atafu almost all inhabitants are members of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa. On Nukunonu almost all are Roman Catholic. On Fakaofo both denominations are present with the Congregational Christian Church predominant. The total proportions are: Congregational Christian Church 62%, Roman Catholic 34%, other 5%.

While slightly more females than males live on Atafu and Fakaofo, males make up 57% of Nukunonu residents. Only 9% of Tokelauans aged 40 or more have never been married. One quarter of the population were born overseas; almost all the rest live on the same atoll they were born on. Most households own 5 or more pigs.


Tokelau adopted its flag and emblem in the early 2000s. The flag represents the Southern Cross as a sign of its connection to New Zealand and Australia. Four hollow gold stars also represent the country's four atolls. In lieu of a coat of arms, Tokelau uses a heraldic badge designed by New Zealand's state herald. It depicts a traditional wooden tackle box with an inlay pattern, a distinctive local handicraft. The cross shape represents the importance of faith to the islanders and a hope in God's guidance for the nation.

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Tokelau, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (view authors). Wikipedia logo