Tokelauan people
Tokelauan dancers
Total population
c. 10,000
Regions with significant populations

 New Zealand

Tokelauan, English
Congregationalism, Roman Catholic
Related ethnic groups
Other Polynesians

Tokelauan people are a Polynesian ethnic group native to Tokelau, a Polynesian archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, who share the Tokelauan Polynesian culture, history and language.

The group's home islands are a dependent territory of New Zealand. 77% of Tokelau's population of 1,650 claims Tokelauan ancestry,[1] while 8,676 Tokelauans live in New Zealand.[2] A small number also live in Samoa.


The Tokelauan language is part of the Polynesian language family. Most Tokelauans are fluent in both English and Tokelauan.[3] There are approximately 4,000 speakers, the majority of whom live in New Zealand.[4]


The majority of Tokelauans live in New Zealand, concentrated in the large Wellington suburbs of the Hutt Valley and Porirua,[5] as well as Auckland.[2] They are the sixth largest Pacific Islander ethnic group in New Zealand, and one of the most socio-economically deprived.[5] Migration to New Zealand began in the 1950s and increased in the 1960s under a government resettlement scheme driven by fears of overpopulation and a tropical cyclone striking the islands.[6] The New Zealand-based population exceeded that of Tokelau in 1976, and immigration declined after that point.[6]



As of 2019, 50.4% of people belong to Congregational Christian Church while 38.7% belong to Catholic Church. The rest of the population adhere to various Christian denominations, such as Presbyterianism.[1] Roman Catholicism is mostly practiced in Nukunonu, whereas inhabitants of the islands of Atafu and Fakaofo adhere to the Congregationalism. Prior to the arrival of Christianity, Tokelauans worshiped a god named Tui Tokelau.


Netball, rugby, football and cricket are popular in Tokelau. Tokelau Games are held yearly.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b "Tokelau". CIA World Factbook. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Tokelauan ethnic group". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  3. ^ Huntsman, Judith. "Culture of Tokelau". World Culture Encyclopedia. Advameg.
  4. ^ John Middleton (28 October 2020). "Is Tokelauan facing extinction?". University of Auckland. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  5. ^ a b "Living the Tokelauan Way in New Zealand". Social Policy Journal of New Zealand (35). 2009. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  6. ^ a b Carl Walrond (25 March 2015). "Tokelauans - Immigration". Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 18 August 2021.