Kōrero: Tokelauans

Whārangi 2. Communities

Ngā whakaahua me ngā rauemi katoa o tēnei kōrero

The importance of community

The Tokelauan ethic of maopoopo (unity) led to the formation of fakalopotopotoga (associations) and mafutaga (clubs) in New Zealand. Migrants identified firstly with their home atoll – either Atafu, Fakaofu or Nukunonu. The Atafu Association met fortnightly, raising funds for the atoll’s new church which opened in 1971. The Fakaofo Association also financed a church on their atoll. They paid for the casting of a bell – New Zealand’s largest at the time – that was then shipped to Fakaofo.

Porirua and the Hutt Valley

In 1968 several hundred migrants from the Nukunonu atoll were living in the Hutt Valley. Most of them had come without government assistance. As factory workers their weekly wages barely covered the rent, so families often lived together.

A hundred families from each of the three atolls (in roughly equal proportions) were living in Porirua by 1972. By 2001, one-third of all New Zealand Tokelauans lived there, earning it the nickname ‘the capital of Tokelau’.

In 2013, 49% of the country’s Tokelauans lived in the wider Wellington region, mostly in the Hutt Valley and Porirua areas.


Early Fakaofo migrants had Samoan links and settled near Auckland’s inner city. Many belonged to one of three overlapping kinship networks. As urban renewal pushed up rents, many moved to the southern and western suburbs.

In 2013, 27% of Tokelauans lived in the Auckland region.

Taupō and Rotorua

Families rather than single people were resettled in Taupō, where blocks of forest service dwellings formed a village atmosphere.

Other Tokelauans settled around Rotorua’s town fringes. In 1966–67, 32 single men arrived in Rotorua, some of them marrying Māori women.

Me pēnei te tohu i te whārangi:

Carl Walrond, 'Tokelauans - Communities', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/mi/tokelauans/page-2 (accessed 18 August 2022)

He kōrero nā Carl Walrond, i tāngia i te 8 Feb 2005, updated 25 Mar 2015