The Island Nation Of Tokelau: The Truth Knowledge And The History Of


(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BACK)

 

Tokelau

Introduction 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. Referenda held in 2006 and 2007 to change the status of the islands from that of a New Zealand territory to one of free association with New Zealand did not meet the needed threshold for approval.
History Archaeological evidence indicates that the atolls of Tokelau — Atafu, Nukunonu, and Fakaofo — were settled about 1000 years ago, probably by voyages from Samoa, the Cook Islands and Tuvalu. Oral history traces local traditions and genealogies back several hundred years. Inhabitants followed Polynesian mythology with the local god Tui Tokelau; and developed forms of music (see Music of Tokelau) and art. The three atolls functioned largely independently while maintaining social and linguistic cohesion. Tokelauan society was governed by chiefly clans, and there were occasional inter-atoll skirmishes and wars as well as inter-marriage. Fakaofo, the “chiefly island,” held some dominance over Atafu and Nukunonu. Life on the atolls was subsistence-based, with reliance on fish and coconut.

Western discovery and contact

Commodore John Byron discovered Atafu on 24 June 1765 and named it “Duke of York’s Island.” Parties onshore reported that there were no signs of current or previous inhabitants. Captain Edward Edwards, in knowledge of Byron’s discovery, visited Atafu on 6 June 1791 in search of the Bounty mutineers. There were no permanent inhabitants, but houses contained canoes and fishing gear, suggesting the island was used as a temporary residence by fishing parties. On 12 June 1791, Edwards sailed southward and discovered Nukunonu, naming it “Duke of Clarence’s Island”. A landing party could not make contact with the people but saw “morais,” burying places, and canoes with “stages in their middle” sailing across the lagoons.

On 29 October 1825 August R. Strong of the U.S.N Dolphin wrote of his crew’s arrival at the atoll Nukunonu, “Upon examination, we found they had removed all the women and children from the settlement, which was quite small, and put them in canoes lying off a rock in the lagoon. They would frequently come near the shore, but when we approached they would pull off with great noise and precipitation.” (The Journal of the South Pacific, 110 (3), pp.296).

Fakaofo islanders, drawn in 1841 by the United States Exploring Expedition

On 14 February 1835 Captain Smith of the United States whaler General Jackson records discovering Fakaofo, calling it “D’Wolf’s Island”. On 25 January 1841, the United States Exploring Expedition visited Atafu and discovered a small population living on the island. The residents appeared to be temporary, evidenced by the lack of a chief and the possession of double canoes (used for inter-island travel). They desired to barter, and possessed blue beads and a plane-iron, indicating previous interaction with foreigners. The expedition reached Nukunonu on 28 January 1841 but did not record any information about inhabitants. On 29 January 1841, the expedition discovered Fakaofo and named it “Bowditch”. The islanders were found to be similar in appearance and nature to those in Atafu.

Missionaries preached Christianity in Tokelau from 1845 to the 1860s. French Catholic missionaries on Wallis Island (also known as ‘Uvea) and missionaries of the Protestant London Missionary Society in Samoa used native teachers to convert the Tokelauans. Atafu was converted to Protestantism by the London Missionary Society, Nukunonu was converted to Catholicism and Fakofo was converted to both denominations. Peruvian slave traders arrived in 1863 and took nearly all (253) of the able-bodied men to work as labourers. The men died of dysentery and smallpox, and very few returned to Tokelau. With this loss, the system of governance became based on the “Taupulega”, or “Councils of Elders”, where individual families on each atoll were represented. During this time, Polynesian immigrants and American, Scottish, French, Portuguese and German beachcombers settled, marrying local women and repopulating the atolls.

Government

Villages are entitled to enact their own laws regulating their daily lives and New Zealand law only applies where it has been extended by specific enactment. Serious crime is rare and there are no prisons – offenders are publicly rebuked, fined or made to work

In 1877 the islands were included under the protection of Great Britain by an Order-in-council which claimed jurisdiction over all unclaimed Pacific Islands. Commander C. F. Oldham on HMS Egeria landed at each of the three atolls in June 1889 and officially raised the Union Flag, declaring the group a British protectorate. The British government annexed Tokelau to the colony of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands and transferred Tokelau to New Zealand administration in 1926, abolishing the islands’ chiefdoms. By the Tokelau Act of 1948, sovereignty over Tokelau was transferred to New Zealand. Defence is also the responsibility of New Zealand. However, the Tokelauans are drafting a constitution and developing institutions and patterns of self-government as Tokelau moves towards free association with New Zealand, similarly to Niue and the Cook Islands.

Geography 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
land: 10 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: about 17 times the size of The Mall in Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 101 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 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% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: lies in Pacific typhoon belt
Environment – current issues: limited natural resources and overcrowding are contributing to emigration to New Zealand
Geography – note: consists of three atolls (Atafu, Fakaofo, Nukunonu), each with a lagoon surrounded by a number of reef-bound islets of varying length and rising to over 3 m above sea level
Politics The head of state is Elizabeth II, the Queen in right of New Zealand, who also reigns over the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms. The Queen is represented in the territory by Administrator David Payton. The current head of government is Kuresa Nasau, who presides over the Council for the Ongoing Governance of Tokelau, which functions as a cabinet. The Council consists of the Faipule (leader) and Pulenuku (village mayor) of each of the three atolls.The monarch is hereditary, the administrator appointed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade in New Zealand, and the office of head of government rotates between the three Faipule for a one-year term.

The Tokelau Amendment Act of 1996 confers legislative power on the General Fono, a unicameral body. The number of seats each atoll receives in the Fono is determined by population — at present, Fakaofo and Atafu both have eight and Nukunonu has seven. Faipule and Pukenuku (atoll leaders and village mayors) also sit in the Fono.

On 11 November 2004 Tokelau and New Zealand took steps to formulate a treaty that would turn Tokelau from a non-self-governing territory to a self-governing state in free association with New Zealand. Besides the treaty, a UN-sponsored referendum on self-determination took place, with the three islands voting on successive days starting 13 February 2006. (Tokelauans based in Apia, Samoa, voted on February 11.) . Out of 581 votes cast, 349 were for Free Association, being short of the two-thirds majority required for the measure to pass. The referendum was profiled (somewhat light-heartedly) in the 1 May 2006 issue of The New Yorker magazine. A repeat referendum took place on October 20-24, 2007, again narrowly failing to approve self-government. This time the vote was short by just 16 votes or 3%.

In May 2008, the United Nations’ Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged colonial powers “to complete the decolonization process in every one of the remaining 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories”, including Tokelau. This led the New Zealand Herald to comment that the United Nations was “apparently frustrated by two failed attempts to get Tokelau to vote for independence”.

People Population: 1,433 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 42%
15-64 years: 53%
65 years and over: 5%
Population growth rate: -0.011% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: NA (2008 est.)
Death rate: NA (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: NA (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: NA
Infant mortality rate: total: NA
male: NA
female: NA (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: NA
male: NA
female: NA (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: NA (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 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
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 11 years
male: 10 years
female: 11 years (2004)
Education expenditures: NA
Government Country name: conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Tokelau
Dependency status: self-administering territory of New Zealand; note – Tokelau and New Zealand have agreed to a draft constitution as Tokelau moves toward free association with New Zealand; a UN sponsored referendum on self governance in October 2007 did not produce the two-thirds majority vote necessary for changing the political status
Government type: NA
Capital: none; each atoll has its own administrative center
time difference: UTC-11 (6 hours behind Washington, DC during Standard Time)
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; 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); represented by Governor General of New Zealand Anand SATYANAND (since 23 August 2006); New Zealand is represented by Administrator David PAYTON (since 17 October 2006)
head of government: Pio TUIA (since 23 February 2008); note – position rotates annually among the three Faipule (village leaders)
cabinet: the Council for the Ongoing Government of Tokelau, consisting of three Faipule (village leaders) and three Pulenuku (village mayors), functions as a cabinet
elections: 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
Legislative branch: unicameral General Fono (20 seats; based upon proportional representation from the three islands elected by popular vote to serve three-year terms; Atafu has seven seats, Fakaofo has seven seats, Nukunonu has six seats); note – the Tokelau Amendment Act of 1996 confers limited legislative power on the General Fono
elections: last held 17-19 January 2008 (next to be held in 2011)
election results: independents 20
Judicial branch: Supreme Court in New Zealand exercises civil and criminal jurisdiction in Tokelau
Political parties and leaders: none
Political pressure groups and leaders: none
International organization participation: PIF (observer), SPC, UNESCO (associate), UPU
Diplomatic representation in the US: none (territory of New Zealand)
Diplomatic representation from the US: none (territory of New Zealand)
Flag description: the flag of New Zealand is used
Economy 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 with 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 (official exchange rate): $NA
GDP – real growth rate: NA%
GDP – per capita (PPP): $1,000 (1993 est.)
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Labor force: 440 (2001)
Unemployment rate: NA%
Population below poverty line: NA%
Budget: revenues: $430,800
expenditures: $2.8 million (1987 est.)
Fiscal year: 1 April – 31 March
Inflation rate (consumer prices): NA%
Agriculture – products: coconuts, copra, breadfruit, papayas, bananas; pigs, poultry, goats; fish
Industries: small-scale enterprises for copra production, woodworking, plaited craft goods; stamps, coins; fishing
Electricity – production: NA kWh
Electricity – consumption: NA kWh
Electricity – production by source: fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Exports: $0 (2002)
Exports – commodities: stamps, copra, handicrafts
Imports: $969,200 c.i.f. (2002)
Imports – commodities: foodstuffs, building materials, fuel
Currency (code): New Zealand dollar (NZD)
Currency code: NZD
Exchange rates: New Zealand dollars (NZD) per US dollar – 1.4151 (2008 est.), 1.3811 (2007), 1.5408 (2006), 1.4203 (2005), 1.5087 (2004)
Communications Telephones – main lines in use: 300 (2002)
Telephone system: general assessment: modern satellite-based communications system
domestic: radiotelephone service between islands
international: country code – 690; radiotelephone service to Samoa; government-regulated telephone service (TeleTok); satellite earth stations – 3
Radio broadcast stations: AM NA, FM NA, shortwave NA (one radio station provides service to all islands) (2002)
Radios: 1,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .tk
Internet hosts: 273 (2008)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)
Internet users: NA
Transportation Ports and terminals: none; offshore anchorage only
Military Military – note: defense is the responsibility of New Zealand
Transnational Issues Disputes – international: Tokelau included American Samoa’s Swains Island (Olohega) in its 2006 draft constitution

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