Religion in Tokelau

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The back of the Catholic Church on Nukunonu in Tokelau. The arch goes over the main street of the village. Tokelau Nukuono Church 20070716.jpg
The back of the Catholic Church on Nukunonu in Tokelau. The arch goes over the main street of the village.

The vast majority of people in Tokelau are Christians and Christianity plays a significant role in the Tokelauan way of life.

Tokelau New Zealand territory in the Pacific Ocean

Tokelau is a dependent territory of New Zealand in the southern Pacific Ocean. It consists of three tropical coral atolls, with a combined land area of 10 km2 (4 sq mi). The capital rotates yearly between the three atolls. Tokelau lies north of the Samoan Islands, east of Tuvalu, south of the Phoenix Islands, southwest of the more distant Line Islands, and northwest of the Cook Islands. Swains Island is geographically part of Tokelau, but is subject to an ongoing territorial dispute and is currently administered by the United States as part of American Samoa.

Christianity is an Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, as described in the New Testament. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament.



Missionaries preached Christianity in Tokelau from 1845 to the 1860s. French Roman Catholic missionaries on Wallis Island (also known as 'Uvea) and missionaries of the Protestant London Missionary Society in Samoa used native teachers to convert the Tokelauans. Atafu was converted to Protestantism by the London Missionary Society, Nukunonu was converted to Catholicism and Fakaofo was converted to both denominations. Since 1992 the Roman Catholic Mission Sui Iuris of Tokelau has represented the Catholic church in Tokelau.

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

Catholic Church Christian church led by the Bishop of Rome

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's "oldest continuously functioning international institution", it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.

London Missionary Society British religious organisation (1795-1966)

The London Missionary Society was a predominantly Congregationalist missionary society formed in England in 1795 at the instigation of Welsh Congregationalist minister Dr Edward Williams working with evangelical Anglicans and various nonconformists. It was largely Reformed in outlook, with Congregational missions in Oceania, Africa, and the Americas, although there were also Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists and various other Protestants involved. It now forms part of the Council for World Mission (CWM).


In 2006, all people who answered the religion question on the Tokelauan census gave one of the major Christian denominations as their religion.

In 2011, 58.5% of respondents belonged to the Congregational Christian denomination and over one-third of respondents (36.8%) belonged to the Roman Catholic denomination. Of the remaining 4.7%, 1.8% were Presbyterian, 0.1% belonged to Spiritual and New Age religions, and 2.8% belonged to other Christian denominations.

Congregational church religious denomination

Congregational churches are Protestant churches in the Reformed tradition practicing congregationalist church governance, in which each congregation independently and autonomously runs its own affairs.

New Age spiritual or religious beliefs and practices that developed in Western nations during the 1970s

New Age is a term applied to a range of spiritual or religious beliefs and practices that developed in Western nations during the 1970s. Precise scholarly definitions of the New Age differ in their emphasis, largely as a result of its highly eclectic structure. Although analytically often considered to be religious, those involved in it typically prefer the designation of spiritual or Mind, Body, Spirit and rarely use the term "New Age" themselves. Many scholars of the subject refer to it as the New Age movement, although others contest this term and suggest that it is better seen as a milieu or zeitgeist.

Variation by atoll

Religious affiliation of Tokelau residents by atoll of usual residence, 2011 TokelauReligionByAtoll2011.png
Religious affiliation of Tokelau residents by atoll of usual residence, 2011

The majority of Tokelau's usually resident population living on Atafu (89.8%) and Fakaofo (68.9%) in 2011 were Congregational Christians. Congregational Christian has remained the major denomination on Atafu and Fakaofo since the 2006 Census, but the proportion of residents who report belonging has decreased.

In 2006, 95.4% of residents on Atafu and 70.7% on Fakaofo were Congregational Christians.

Roman Catholic has remained the major denomination of Nukunonu residents since the 2006 Census.In 2011, 93.9% of usual residents were Roman Catholics, compared with 96.9% in 2006.

Since the 2006 Census, the proportion of Congregational Christians on Nukunonu has increased markedly, from 2.1% in 2006 to 4.5% in 2011. On Atafu, the proportion of Roman Catholics also had a notable increase, from 0.2% in 2006 to 2.4% in 2011.

On Fakaofo, there was an increase in its second-largest religious denomination (Roman Catholic). In 2011, 25.9% of Fakaofo residents were Roman Catholics, compared with 22.2% in 2006.

Related Research Articles

Music of Tokelau

The music of Tokelau occurs in the atolls of Atafu, Nukunonu, and Fakaofo. It is dominated by communal choral activity in harmony, with percussive accompaniment including log drums (pate), pokihi and apa. Nukunonu is notable for traditional song and dance.

Tokelauan is a Polynesian language spoken in Tokelau and on Swains Island in American Samoa. It is closely related to Tuvaluan and is related to Samoan and other Polynesian languages. Tokelauan has a co-official status with English in Tokelau. There are approximately 4,260 speakers of Tokelauan, of whom 2,100 live in New Zealand, 1,400 in Tokelau, and 17 in Swains Island. "Tokelau" means "north-northeast".

Fakaofo archipelago

Fakaofo, formerly known as Bowditch Island, is a South Pacific Ocean atoll located in the Tokelau Group. The actual land area is only about 3 km², consisting of islets on a coral reef surrounding a central lagoon of some 45 km². According to the 2006 census 483 people officially live on Fakaofo. Of those present 70% belong to the Congregational Church and 22% to the Catholic Church.

Nukunonu human settlement

Nukunonu is the largest atoll within Tokelau, a dependency of New Zealand, in the south Pacific Ocean. It comprises 30 islets surrounding a central lagoon, with about 5.5 km2 (2.1 sq mi) of land area and a lagoon surface area of 109 km2 (42 sq mi).

Politics of Tokelau

The politics of Tokelau takes place within a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic dependency. The head of state of Tokelau is Queen Elizabeth II in right of her Realm of New Zealand, who is represented by an Administrator. The monarch is hereditary, the Administrator is appointed by the New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Kuresa Nasau Tokelauan politician

Kuresa Nasau is a Tokelauan politician who has served as head of government seven times. He is also faipule of Atafu. Many feel his success as leader of Tokelau is attributed to his religious background and lack of candidates running for Head of Government of Tokelau

Mission <i>sui iuris</i> of Tokelau

The Roman Catholic Mission Sui Iuris of Tokelau in Tokelau is a suffragan mission of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Samoa-Apia. The Archdiocese of Samoa-Apia and Tokelau was split in 1992 into the Archdiocese of Samoa-Apia and the Mission Sui Iuris of Tokelau. The current Ecclesiastical Superior is Rev. Oliver P. Aro, MSP, appointed 6 May 2011.

2007 Tokelauan self-determination referendum

A referendum on self-determination was held in Tokelau on 20 October and on 22–24 October 2007, with the result being that self-governance was rejected. Had it been successful, the referendum would have changed Tokelau's status from an unincorporated New Zealand territory to a self-governing state in free association with New Zealand, akin to the Cook Islands and Niue. However, the referendum required a two-thirds positive vote to pass, and the "yes" side fell short of the required total by 16 votes.

Christianity in New Zealand

Christianity in New Zealand dates to the arrival of missionaries in the early 19th century and is the country's primary religion. Slightly less than half the population identify as Christian. Christian organisations are the leading non-government providers of social services in New Zealand. A number of denominations are present, with none having a dominant position.

Christianity in Angola

Christianity in Angola has existed since 1491. Today 79% of Angolans practise some form of Christianity.

Outline of Tokelau Overview of and topical guide to Tokelau

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Tokelau:

Religion in Nauru religion in Nauru

In Nauru, Nauru Congregational Church is the largest religion, encompassing 35.71% of the population, as of the 2011 census.

Religion in Hungary has been dominated by forms of Christianity for centuries. According to the 2011 census, 54.2% of the Hungarians declared to believe in Christianity, of whom 38.9% were Catholics, 13.8% were Protestants, 0.1% were Orthodox Christians, and 1.3% were members of other Christian groups. At the same time, 27.2% of the Hungarians did not declare a religious affiliation, 16.7% declared explicitly to be not religious and 1.5% atheists. Minority religions practised in Hungary include Buddhism, Islam and Judaism.

Languages of Tokelau languages of a geographic region

Tokelau has two official languages: Tokelauan and English. Over 90% of the population speaks Tokelauan, and just under 60% speak English. Also, 45.8% of the population speak Samoan, and small percentages of the population speak Tuvaluan and Kiribati.

The following is an alphabetical list of articles related to Tokelau.

Demographics of Oceania

Oceania is a region centered on the islands of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Conceptions of what constitutes Oceania vary, with it being defined in various ways, often geopolitically or geographically. In the geopolitical conception used by the United Nations, International Olympic Committee, and many atlases, the Oceanic region includes Australia and the nations of the Pacific from Papua New Guinea east, but not the Malay Archipelago or Indonesian New Guinea. The term is sometimes used more specifically to denote Australasia as a geographic continent, or biogeographically as a synonym for either the Australasian ecozone or the Pacific ecozone.

Internet in Tokelau is provided by Teletok, the government-owned communications corporation, and Taloha Inc., a private company formed by the Dutch Joost Zuurbier.

Smoking in Tokelau is prevalent, with ethnic Tokelauans having the highest smoking prevalence of all Pacific ethnicities. In the 2011 Tokelau Census, 47.8% of people aged over 15 were found to be regular cigarette smokers.

Tokelauan people

Tokelauan people are people native to Tokelau. In Tokelau, 64.5% of the whole population are Tokelauan, 9.7% are part Tokelauan/Samoan and 2.8% are part Tokelauan/Tuvaluan. The native language of the Tokelauans is tokelauan.


This article contains content derived from the 2011 Tokelau Census, produced by Statistics New Zealand, which is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 New Zealand License. See [1] for the full citation.

Statistics New Zealand National statistical service of New Zealand

Statistics New Zealand, branded as Stats NZ, is the public service department of New Zealand charged with the collection of statistics related to the economy, population and society of New Zealand. To this end, Stats NZ produces censuses and surveys.