Asia

Tokelau territory profile

  • 25 November 2016
  • From the section Asia
Map of Tokelau

Three far-flung coral atolls - Atafu, Nukunonu and Fakaofo - make up Tokelau, a Polynesian territory of New Zealand in the South Pacific.

Lying between New Zealand and Hawaii, Tokelau has few physical links with the wider world. There is no airport and it takes more than a day at sea to reach its southern neighbour, Samoa.

Most of the 1,500 islanders live by subsistence farming. Thousands have chosen to leave, usually for New Zealand or Samoa. The latter has a similar culture and language.

Earmarked by the UN as a territory where it wants to encourage greater independence, Tokelauans have twice voted to retain their colonial status.

Tokelau's main industry is fishing but it also generates income from the use of its internet domain name as one of the countries offering free registration.

New Zealand is the territory's main budget provider and has sought to allay fears that it will abandon the atolls should Tokelau favour autonomy.

Like other low-lying Pacific territories, Tokelau is said to be at risk from rising sea levels. It is also vulnerable to tropical cyclones.

FACTS

Tokelau

Non-self-governing territory of New Zealand

  • Population 1,200

  • Area 12 sq km (4.7 sq miles)

  • Major languages Tokelauan, English

  • Major religion Christianity

  • Life expectancy 68 years (men), 70 years (women)

  • Currency New Zealand dollar

LEADERS

Head of state: Queen Elizabeth II

Head of government: Aliki Faipule Afega Gaualofa

Political leadership revolves around three Faipule, or village heads, who take it in turns to oversee a cabinet - the Council for Ongoing Government - for a year.

Aliki Faipule Afega Gaualofa took up the rotating post of Ulu or titular head of government in March 2016.

The General Fono, an assembly of elected delegates, handles local legislative affairs. It is also responsible for the territory's budget.

Each atoll has a Taupulega, or Council of Elders.

Tokelau is a non-self-governing territory and has been administered by New Zealand since 1926. The Administrator of Tokelau is appointed by the New Zealand government and is responsible for supervising the government of the territory.

MEDIA

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Each atoll operates an FM community radio station

Each atoll operates an FM community radio station, carrying shipping news, weather reports and music.

The stations are: Radio Atafu FM; Radio Fakaofo FM; and Radio Nukunonu FM.

The outlets are overseen by the Council for Ongoing Government.

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