Statistics NZ reaffirms Tokelau connection

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Left to right: Census specialist Michael Berry, outgoing statistical advisor Charlie Russell and his successor Jaap Jasperse, Government Statisticians Liz MacPherson (NZ) and Kele Lui (Tokelau), and International Relations adviser Mark Feary.  (Wellington, 10 February 2014)
Two nations reaffirmed their connection when the National Statistician of Tokelau, Kele Lui, met the New Zealand Government Statistician, Ms Liz MacPherson in Wellington last Friday.

Ms MacPherson became chief executive of Statistics NZ mid last year. She confirmed that her staff would continue to support the Tokelau National Statistics Office (TNSO) which has been based in Apia, Samoa, since 2008. The main form of support is in staff time for sharing technical expertise, and hosting relevant material on the website (see

Mark Feary, Principal Advisor International Relations at Statistics NZ, says the initiatives in support of Tokelau are consistent with the organisation’s own strategy: especially with the Ten Year Pacific Statistics Strategy for developing statistical capability in the Pacific.

Statistics NZ has already been instrumental in completing several five-yearly censuses in Tokelau, most recently in 2011. Its latest input was in the national population count in 2013: an important event whose outcomes determine village representation in the General Fono (assembly) and the distribution of finances among the three atolls. More recently the organisation helped establish a quarterly Consumer Price Index (CPI) which is internationally recognised as the key measure of inflation.

Topic of discussion between both government statisticians were the challenges faced by a small island nation such as Tokelau – with a total population of about 1,400 people the second smallest nation in the world (after the Vatican). It is geographically very isolated: its three tropical atolls are accessible only from Apia via a 500-km ferry ride. Yet accurate and reliable numbers are essential for measuring and planning wealth, health, and education. These numbers must be obtained and processed in an internationally accepted manner.
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Government Statisticians Liz MacPherson (NZ) and Kele Lui (Tokelau).

The Tokelau National Statistics Office has a special relationship with Statistics NZ. This is reflected in the secondment agreement between the two offices. Mr Charlie Russell is currently seconded to Tokelau and is soon to complete his two-year full-time term as a Statistics Adviser.

With Mr Russell’s stint in Apia coming to an end in March 2013, Dr Jaap Jasperse is preparing to become his successor. Having lived in Samoa from 2005 to 2007, Jaap (‘iapi’) is looking forward to returning  to the islands and contributing to the excellent relationships between the national statistics offices. 

Visit the website of the Tokelau National Statistics Office for more information about Tokelau