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Tokelau Travel Guide

Economy

Tokelau receives some NZ$9 million a year in N.Z. budgetary support and project assistance, around NZ$6,000 per capita. This subsidy is four times greater than all locally raised revenue, and exports of handicrafts are negligible (copra exports have ceased).

Tokelau earns several hundred thousand dollars a year from the sale of postage stamps and coins, but a more important source of revenue is licensing fees from American purse seiners, which pull tuna from Tokelau's 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ). In recent years these fees have brought in twice as much revenue as local duties, registrations, and taxes. Inshore waters within 40 km of the reef are reserved for local fishing. New Zealand has declared that all income from the EEZ will go to Tokelau.

Since 2005 Tolelau internet domain names have been marketed by a Dutch company, Dot TK, which pays royalties to Tokelau. Registration of .tk domains is free but users must agree to allow banner and text advertising on their sites.

The 200 government jobs funded by New Zealand are about the only regular source of monetary income in Tokelau today. Nearly all of these jobs are held by Tokelauans—there are few resident expatriates&mdashand to avoid the formation of a privileged class, nearly half are temporary or casual positions that are rotated among the community. The Community Services Levy of 6½ percent collected from wage earners is used to subsidize copra and handicraft production, further distributing the wealth. The faka-Tokelau (Tokelauan way of life) requires families to provide for their old and disabled.

Pig Pen, Fakaofo
Pigs are a major source of protein in Tokelau.

Yet, limited resources have prompted many islanders to emigrate to New Zealand. Tokelauans are not eligible for N.Z. welfare payments unless they live in New Zealand and pay taxes there. However, since 1999 they have been allowed to receive their N.Z. pensions in Tokelau and this has stimulated some return migration.

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