General issues: New Zealand administration 1948-1949, New Zealand territory 1949-Present
Country name on general issues: Tokelau Islands, Tokelau
Currency: 1 Pound = 20 Shilling, 1 Shilling = 12 Pence 1948-1967, 1 Dollar = 100 Cents 1967-Present
Population: 1 500 in 1948, 1 350 in 2014
Political history Tokelau
Tokelau is a group of three atolls located in the central Pacific Ocean – for the exact location, please refer to the map of Modern Oceania. The indigenous population is Polynesian, although the islands may not have been continuously settled. Europeans and Americans explored Tokelau in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In 1877, the islands were claimed by the British and in 1889 the British effectively established a protectorate over Tokelau – at the time called the Union Islands. In 1916, the Union Islands were annexed by the British and made part of the Gilbert & Ellice Islands colony.
In 1925 – effective 1926 – the Union Islands were transferred to New Zealand administration, although they remained a British possession. New Zealand administered the islands as part of Western Samoa – then a New Zealand occupied and later mandated territory. The name was changed from Union Islands to Tokelau Islands in 1946. In 1948 – effective 1949 – the islands were formally annexed to New Zealand as a New Zealand territory. Finally, the formal name was changed to Tokelau in 1976. The United States reneged claims to the islands – going back to the 1856 Guano Act – in 1980. Tokelau has been administered as a New Zealand territory until today. The island falls under the authority of a New Zealand administrator, but most of the administration is delegated to a council of island elders – the seat of the council rotating yearly between the islands.
Economically, Tokelau depends on subsistence agriculture and fishing. The majority of the population is Polynesian. Many Tokelauans live in New Zealand as they have New Zealand nationality and New Zealand offers more perspective than life on the islands.
Postal history Tokelau
Tokelau used the stamps of the Gilbert & Ellice Islands since 1916, followed by the issues of Western Samoa since 1926. The first stamps for Tokelau were issued in 1948 – a set featuring maps and scenes from each of the three islands. Stamp production has been moderate with a blend of themes of local interest and themes aimed at the thematic collectors market.