Tokelau Census team takes data back to the people

Apia, 12 May 2017

It was an intensive and successul Tokelau consultation round by the combined Apia and Wellington Census team that took the data back to the people who provided it. Tokelau’s Census was held on 18 October 2016 with assistance from Statistics New Zealand. Within a period of only 6 months, StatsNZ also analysed the results and prepared the analytical reports and tables. These were presented to the Taupulega (village councils) and community groups of Atafu on 6 May, Nukunono on 7 May, and Fakaofo on 8 May.

Then followed a presentation to staff of the Tokelau Apia Liaison Office (TALO), in Apia on 11 May. On the same day, the series was completed with a presentation to the Administrator of Tokelau, Mr David Nicholson; he suggested the data would also be of great interest to academics to further explore in the near future.
Consultation with Taupulega (village council) in Fakaofo, Tokelau. Teresa Evans-Turner presenting, Mafa Mativa interpreting, and co-presenter Mike Berry answering queries.
The main objective of the consultation round was to make people in Tokelau aware of the Census data that were now available to them. The hope is for this information to be made good use of, for policy development and monitoring. Especially when combined with local knowledge and results from other surveys (such as the recently completed one on Household Income and Expenditure), the Tokelau status quo is now well described. This allows inequalities in training and income, for example, to be addressed more effectively than when based on hearsay or intuition.
Overall, about 200 people participated in the Census result sessions, which demonstrates a high level of interest in the country. The Census determined its “de jure usually resident population” to be only one short of 1,500. The usual residents present in Tokelau on Census night counted 1,197, with about 300 people traveling oversees for leisure or schooling, or related to medical treatment.

The presenters comprised two staff from StatsNZ: Mike Berry from Wellington and Teresa Evans-Turner from Christchurch; plus two members of the Tokelau National Statistics Office (TNSO) in Apia: Jaap (“iapi”) Jasperse and Mafa Mativa-Fonua. In all, they gave presentations on 10 occasions.

Core content was an explanation of the graphs contained in the “Profile of Tokelau”, which is a 95-page analytical report with text, tables, graphs and the questionnaire form used. This is available from the Tokelau website (at, as are the bilingual handouts of powerpoint presentations used.
Consultation with Taupulega (village council) in Fakaofo, Tokelau. Teresa Evans-Turner presenting, Mafa Mativa interpreting, and co-presenter Jaap (‘iapi’) Jasperse taking a break.
The Tokelau census was the first one in the Pacific to use tablet computers for administering the census questionnaire and enter responses. This in part explains why the data could be analysed so quickly, demonstrating that the population had grown by about 6 percent since the previous census, 5 years ago. Many further questions on population structure, language, work, and housing were included again.
The 2016 Census in Tokelau was conducted under the supervision of StatsNZ, Wellington staff (L to R): Avril Macfarlane, Michael Berry, and Sophie Davies
New in the 2016 Census were a number of questions related to the quality of life in Tokelau, and it seems Tokelauans are a happy and healthy lot.

This follows from answers to the question “Where zero is completely dissatisfied, and ten is completely satisfied, how do you feel about your life as a whole?” Almost three-quarters of all residents rated it at 8 or higher; and 50 percent of residents gave the highest score, 10. Life satisfaction in Tokelau increases with age, the age 65-plus group scoring highest.

When asked about their health on a 5-point scale ranging from Poor to Excellent, the majority scored “Good” or better, with only 2 percent scoring “Poor”. Note that people overseas on census night for medical treatment were not included in the questionnaire.

Other new measures included were sense of belonging, frequency of contact with family or friends in Tokelau or overseas, and perceived adequacy of annual income. Full details of the results are available on the Census page of the Tokelau government website, with the direct link

For further information contact:
Dr J.A. ("iapi") Jasperse, Statistics Adviser, Tokelau National Statistics Office, Apia, Samoa.
Email Ph +685 7294913.