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Tokelau Travel Guide

Children, Fakaofo
Children enjoying the shade at Fakaofo.

The People

The Tokelauans are closely related to the people of Tuvalu. Around 500 people live on each atoll, or 1,500 in Tokelau as a whole.

Another 8,000 Tokelauans live "beyond the reef" in Samoa and New Zealand (mainly around Wellington), the result of a migration that began in 1963, following overpopulation in Tokelau itself.

A good many of the present islanders have been to New Zealand and the island population is actually declining as many working age adults join this migration.

Due to the work of early missionaries, Atafu is Congregationalist (LMS), Nukunonu Catholic, and Fakaofo a combination of the two.

Since the Samoan Bible is used, all adults understand Samoan. Young people learn English at school, but everyone speaks Tokelauan at home.

In Tokelau, authority is based on age, rather than lineage. Arguably, nowhere else in the world are senior citizens as respected. Traditionally, the women controlled family resources, but in recent years monetarism has led to this role being appropriated by men.