Tokelau is a group of three low-lying coral atolls in the South Pacific Ocean, about one-half of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand. Each of the atolls – Atafu, Fakaofo, and Nukunonu – consist of large lagoons surrounded by a number of reef-bound islets. The highest point is 5 meters (16 feet) above sea level.

Environmental issues include limited natural resources, overcrowding and vulnerability to climate change – all of which contribute to emigration to New Zealand. There is only one official website for the Government of Tokelau, and that falls under the .nz top level domain; however, there is a department for Economic Development, Natural Resources & Environment (EDNRE), including fisheries. In 2012, Tokelau made headlines worldwide for becoming the first solar powered nation.

Protected areas include the Atafu Marine Conservation Area, Fakaofo Conservation Area, and Nukunonu Marine Conservation Area.


Europeans arrived in the Tokelau islands in the 18th century, but did not actually encounter inhabitants until the 19th century. Missionaries first preached Christianity there in the mid-19th century. Toward the end of the 19th century, the British flag was raised on all three atolls; but, Tokelauans were not formally recognized as British subjects until 1920. Tokelau was placed under New Zealand administration in 1926, and sovereignty was transferred to New Zealand in 1948. Today, defense is the responsibility of New Zealand, and Tokelauans travel on New Zealand passports. In 2011, Tokelau joined Samoa in jumping the International Date Line from east to west.

In fact, Tokelau is not geared or oriented for commercial tourism at all; however, there is of course provision for visitation. For instance, there is no official tourism website for Tokelau. There is also no airport in Tokelau. Everyone must come and go by the monthly state owned ship, operated out of the Tokelau Apia Liaison Office in Samoa. There isn’t even a safe harbor for yachts. Passengers must be transferred to and from the ship by small boats. Apparently, there is only one established guesthouse, the Luana Liki Hotel in Nukunonu; otherwise, homestay accommodation is available with local families.


  • Archaeology of Atafu, Tokelau: Some initial results from 2008 by DJ Addison, B Bass, C Christensen, J Kalolo, 2009
  • Ethnoecology and Tokelauan fishing lore from Atafu atoll by Tokelau R Ono, DJ Addison, 2009
  • Tokelau: a Sort of ‘Self-governing’ Sort of ‘Colony’ by A Hooper, 2008
  • Community-based Fisheries Management Plans for Tokelau by A Vunisea, 2004
  • Marine Resources of Tokelau Atolls by D Fisk, J Axford, M Power, 2004
  • Invasive alien species in Tokelau by MLN Sale, 2003
  • Tokelau: state of the environment report, 1994 by MK Ioane, 1994
  • Implications of Climate Change and Sea Level Rise for Tokelau by R McLean, AM d’Aubert, 1993
  • Space and morality in Tokelau by I Hoem, 1993
  • Country Report for UNCED Tokelau by F Toloa, 1992
  • Traditional marine conservation in Tokelau. Can it be adapted to meet today’s situation by F Toloa, R Gillett, M Pelasio, 1991
  • Songs and stories of Tokelau: An introduction to the cultural heritage by A Thomas, 1990

Tokelau Data