New Zealand Post - official issuer of New Zealand stamps & commemorative coins

Tokelau Language Week 2015

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With the majority of Tokelauans living outside of Tokelau, it’s vital to encourage the use of Tokelauan language and to celebrate Tokelauan culture. Tokelau Language Week began in 2013 as a way to encourage people to embrace and use Tokelauan in their homes and communities to keep this vibrant language alive. 

Issue information

This issue is the second time we’ve marked Tokelau Language Week with a set of stamps - last year the stamps contained basic phrases in Tokelauan, while this year we take a look at counting in Tokelauan. Each stamp includes a number as well as an object from Tokelauan life, written in English and Tokelauan.

45c - Tahi Te Fala (One pandanus tree)

The pandanus tree is important in Tokelauan culture and is used in many aspects of Tokelauan daily life, such as creating vaka (canoes).

45c - Lua Ia Tuluma (Two tackle boxes)

Traditional tackle boxes are carved from wood and are oval shaped with a fitted lid, which is attached with a cord of plaited coconut fibre. Fishing is an important part of Tokelauan culture, with the fishing communities all using their own methods to catch fish.

45c - Tolu Ia Motu (Three atolls)

Tokelau consists of three atolls (ring shaped coral reefs that protrude from the ocean) - Atafu, Nukunonu and Fakaofo. Each atoll consists of several coral islets, with Nukunonu being the largest but Fakaofo having the highest population.

45c - Fa Ia Olo (Four wickets)

Kilikiti (cricket played island-style) is a popular pastime in Tokelau, with it even becoming a Christmas tradition. Almost entire villages join in in and teams can be divided by boundaries, committees or associations.

45c - Lima Ia Tupa (Five crabs)

Tokelau has ten recorded species of crab scuttling along its shores. Some species are considered a delicacy, while others are fairly inedible to humans and are used as bait for fishing.

$1.40 - Ono Ia Lelefua (Six butterflies)

Tokelau has three recorded species of butterfly - the blue moon, common crow and meadow argus. All three species are attractive to look at and are relatively large.

$1.40 - Fitu Ia Ika (Seven fish)

Tokelau’s waters are home to a truly diverse range of marine life, with more than one hundred recorded species of fish found near the tropical nation.

$1.40 - Valu Ia Ili (Eight fans)

Weaving is a craft that remains popular in Tokelau, with fans being in demand in Tokelau’s tropical weather. The average temperature in Tokelau is around 28 degrees celsius.

$1.40 - Iva Ia Vaka (Nine canoes)

Vaka reflect Tokelau’s communal approach to fishing. Most vaka accommodate five people and are usually made from different trees ‘sewn’ together and held with a cord.

$1.40 - Hefulu Ia Matau (Ten fishhooks)

Matau are fishhooks and are part of just one of the many techniques used to fish in Tokelau. Matau are hand-carved and are usually made from wood.

Collectables celebrating Tokelauan culture

Included in this issue is a sheetlet of ten stamps, a set of two first day covers, a set of two miniature sheets, and a set of two miniature sheet first day covers. These collectables aim to encourage and promote the use of the Tokelau language, as well as celebrating Tokelauan culture.

Technical information

Date of issue: 13 October 2015
Number of stamps: Set of ten gummed stamps
Denominations: 5 x 45c, 5 x $1.40
Stamps and first day covers designed by:  New Zealand Post Limited, Wellington, New Zealand
Printer: Collectables and Solutions Centre, New Zealand Post, Whanganui, New Zealand.
Number of colours: Four process colours
Stamp size and format: 40mm x 30mm (horizontal)
Paper type: Tullis Russell 104gsm red phosphor gummed stamp paper
Number of stamps per sheet: 16
Perforation gauge: 13.33
Period of sale: Unless stocks are exhausted earlier, these stamps will remain on sale until 12 October 2016.