- Location:South Pacific Ocean
- Capital: Nukunonu
- Language(s): Tokelauan, English
- Population: 1,676
- Total Area: 10 sq km
- Currency: New Zealand Dollar
- Curious Alcohol Fact:
- Annual Average Liquor Consumption Per Capita: Not available
- Most Popular Drink(s): Kaleve (local toddy), coconut milk, soft drinks
Tokelau is an overseas territory that belongs to New Zealand. It is made up of three islands (described as coral atolls by geographers) and these are Atafu, Fakaofu, and Nukunonu. Each of these islands is composed of various islets. Atafu is the most populous of the islands. Tokelau received it first British visitors in the 19th century and with time, control was handed over to New Zealand. The islands have the following island nations as neighbors: Kiribati to the north, Tuvalu to the west, Samoa and French Polynesia to the south and Cook Islands to the east. Interestingly, I learnt that the Cook Islands were also controlled by New Zealand. The islands of Tokelau are low-lying and are just a few meters above sea level reminding me of the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. There are two seasons on the islands –dry and wet. The islands were formerly called the Union Group but this name was changed in 1946.
The residents of Tokelau are mainly Polynesians. I noticed that they have a lot in common with the Samoans who are their neighbors to the south. The most popular language on the islands is Tokelauan, which I found to sound like good music to the ears. Tokelauan is the official language and English is also in wide use. Most Tokelauans reside and work on the island of Atafu and they are overwhelmingly Christians with many following the Roman Catholic Church or the Congregational Movement. Ancestor worship is also practised to some extent in some parts of the Tokelauan nation. Agriculture is a major activity in Tokelau and coconuts are cultivated and exported as copra (dried coconut meat) from different parts of the islands. Traditionally-woven bags and shoes are also made by the locals and you will surely be impressed with the intricate and exquisite designs that you will be tempted to buy one or two for friends and loved ones back at home.
Like many of the other island nations that I visited, seafood is more than just a component of the cuisine, it is an integral part of the culture. Tokelau is not an exception to this ‘culinary phenomenon’. Seafood come in various shapes, sizes and they are processed using numerous cooking methods. Thus, if you want fried fish or steamed lobsters, all you need to do is to ask and you will find the Tokelauans to be cheerful givers. Other meals are made using bananas, papayas, breadfruit and pandanus. Although rice is imported, it is a staple in many Tokelauan homes.
Coconut milk is quite popular in the Polynesian and Micronesian islands. Thus, anywhere you visit in the Pacific/Oceania region, you can be sure of being received with a cup of fresh coconut milk. One other drink that is worth mentioning is kaleve. It is alcoholic and is made from fermented sap of the coconut tree. Because of its alcoholic nature, many Tokelauans are discouraged from producing kaleva but you can always enjoy vaisalo, which is coconut milk steamed with meat flavoring.
Sports in Tokelau
When it comes to sports in the Pacific/Oceania region, Tokelau is a name that must be mentioned –and with respect too. The most popular sports in the country are as follows: Lawn bowls, rugby, netball, swimming and tennis.
Interesting Things About Tokelau
- The capital is Nukunonu –I am always fascinated with that name!
- The name ‘Tokelau’ is said to mean ‘wind from the north’.
- Citizens are subjects of Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of England.
Story By World By Shotglass
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Special thanks to our contributors:
Adebayo Ahmed Adebola (Ilorin, Nigeria).
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