Nukunonu Commonwealth Walkway

Tokelau / The Pacific

TOKELAU Tokelau is a dependent territory of New Zealand, consisting of three atolls in the South Pacific Ocean, the three islands being only 4 square miles. The atolls are Nukunonu, Atafu and Fakaofo.  Atafu does not have a central capital, however, each atoll has its own administrative centre. The islands were originally called the Union Islands and later Tokelau Islands.  The first European to sight Atafu was Commodore John Byron (‘Four Weather Jack’) (1723-86), in 1765. Captain Edward Edwards (1742-1815), sailed by in 1791 in Pandora in search of the Bounty mutineers, that ship has gone missing after the discovery of the Pitcairn Islands.  He named it Duke of Clarence’s Island.   Today the Queen is Head of State and is represented by an Administrator. It is not easy to get there. Besides charting a boat from New Zealand, one way is to fly to American Samoa, then to Samoa, and perhaps wait two weeks for a boat. The ride takes 48 hours and there are no cabins. Once close to Tokelau, it is too rough to approach, so you transfer to a canoe in order to reach the shore. Nukunonu Nukunonu is the largest atoll within Tokelau. Freshwater is scarce and in order to obtain it, residents of Nukunonu have to dig wells and they depend on rainfall for these wells to replenish. The islands are also dependent upon pandanus, coconuts and marine life for subsidence. Furthermore, the anchorage is inadequate making it harder for ships to harbour here. For this reason, Nukunonu’s population is around 80-120. Nukunonu’s local administration consists of a Taupulega (Council of Elders), made up of heads of family groups and two elected members. Fun Facts
  • Tokelau may be small and may have a relatively select population, however, it actually has its own language: Tokelauan.
  • Tokelau does not produce or export anything to elsewhere – it purely imports, and purely from New Zealand.
  • There are no rocks to mine in Tokelau. The only resource resembling anything close to rock is the local coral.
  • Finally, it’s impossible to fly to Tokelau.

1.8 miles / 3 kilometres

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