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Gagana Tokelau


The Atafu Tokelau Community Group was one of the founding organisations through the Tokelau Wellington Leadership Group to establish the first Tokelau Language Week event in New Zealand since 2012. 

The pursuit of excellence in Gagana Tokelau has nā tū ma nā aga faka-Tokelau (Tokelau customs and way of life), aga i na mea fai (practices), vā feāloaki (inter-relationships) encompassing both traditional and cultural dignity and honour.


Gagana Tokelau offers the opportunity to learn and speak as a gift passed on by our tupuna (ancestors and grandparents) and mātua (parents). By taking up the challenge to embrace the language and the culture, we too uphold mamalu ma te tāua. For those who possess the knowledge and skill of Gagana Tokelau we encourage you to also share ways you can pass on your knowledge and skills of the language, continuing the legacy of our heritage and ancestors.

The material in this section of the website draws from Educational Resource material developed for the VĀIAHO O TE GAGANA TOKELAU 2016 or TOKELAU LANGUAGE WEEK 2016.

More resources and materials are at Gagana Tokelau website.

Photo: The Tokelau flag was officially raised at Matauala at the start of the 2015 Tokelau Language Week. 


Photo Gallery: Atafu Tokelau Community Group celebrates Tokelau Language Week 2015.

Tuku Ifo - Cultural Transfer App

The Atafu Tokelau Community Group Inc has been delivering a range of innovative language initiatives that will help revitalise and increase cultural confidence in the number of speakers of Tokelau languages.  The Atafu Tokelau Community Group in Porirua partnered with OMGTech!  running STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programmes linked to language revitalisation.  The Tuku Ifo language app gives the very basics in Gagana Tokelau for learners to learn and to grow.

Download App from Google Play

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Launch of Language App

This is a video of the Tuku Ifo App Launch at Matauala in October 2020.  The Atafu Tokelau Community Group Inc  proudly developed the app  to provide the basics of Gagana Tokelau for learners to learn and to grow.

Courtesy of Te Mana Facebook page.

Ko Te Alafapeta Tokelau


The Tokelau Dictionary (1986) was published by the Office of Tokelau Affairs. It uses the following alphabetical order. Tokelau and English words are provided below to support your teaching and learning.

The Tokelau alafapeta (alphabet) is made up of fifteen mataituhi (letters). The letters of the alphabet are: a, e, i, o, u, f, g, k, l, m, n, p, h, t, and v.

There are five vaueli (vowels): a, e, i, o, u These vaueli have the same pronunciation as other Pacific languages, including te reo Māori (Māori language). Vaueli can be short or long (the long vowel sound is indicated with a macron). a, e, i, o, u (as in the English: are, there, three or two) ā, ē, ī, ō, ū ( as in the English: father, egg, feet, thought, loot) It is important that the short and long vowel sounds are used, as they distinguish between different words – e.g. mātua (mother) matua (to be a grown up).


Gagana Tokelau has ten konehane (consonants): f, g, k, l, m, n, p, h, t, and v


The Gagana Tokelau: The Tokelau Language Guidelines by the Ministry of Education provides the following explanation for how consonants are pronounced. This is much like in English, except that:

  • ‘f’ is pronounced like ‘hw’ you make the ‘h’ sound at the back of your throat and then constrict the sound so that it becomes a ‘w’. As an example, fakalogo [to listen] sounds like ‘h-wa-ka-longo’

  • ‘g’ is pronounced with a ‘n’ sound in front of ‘g’ – making it a ‘nga’ sound, as in te reo Māori, or the ‘ng’ sound from the English word ‘song’. As an example tagi [to cry] is pronounced ‘tangi’

  • ‘h’ is pronounced like ‘hy’ in words such as hau [to come] which sounds like ‘hy-au’

Kupu Fehoahoani

KUPU FEHOAHOANI - Helpful words


Mālō ni - Hello

E ā mai koe? - How are you?

Ko au e mālohi, Fakafetai - I am well, thank you.

Tulou - Excuse me

Ulu tonu mai -Welcome

Tōfā - Good-bye

Fakafetai lahi lele – Thank you very much

Ke manuia koe i te Alofa o te Atua - May you be blessed in God’s love

Ke fakamanuia e te Atua ia Tokelau - May God bless Tokelau

NA TAU O NA MAHINA - MONTHS OF THE YEAR (Traditional and Literal Translations)

Toe Palolo/Ianuali – January

Mulifā/Fepuali – February

Takaoga/Mati – March

Uluaki Hiliga/Apelila – April

Toe Hiliga/Me – May

Uluaki Utua/Iuni – June

Toe Utua/Iulai – July

Vainoa/Aukuho – August

Faka-Afu/Hetema – September

Kaununu/Oketopa – October

Oloāmanu/Novema – November

Uluaki Palolo/Tehema – December


Aho Gafua – Monday

Aho Lua – Tuesday

Aho Lulu – Wednesday

Aho Tofi – Thursday

Aho Falaile – Friday

Aho Tōnai – Saturday

Aho Hā – Sunday



Kai te manaia! – Awesome!

Te lelei ō koe – Well done!

Te lelei ō koe Iohefo! - Well done Iohefo!

Ko au e fehoahoani atu kia te koe – I will help you

Fakatakitaki ki ei – Give it a go

Io fakamolemole – Yes please

Hēai fakafetai – No thank you

Manuia te po Zion – Goodnight Zion

Kā fai te tātou tatalo – Let us pray

Kā uhu te tatou pehe - Let’s sing our song

National Curriculum (2009)

In 2009 Tokelauan language officially became part of the New Zealand Educational National Curriculum. Tagata Pasifika finds out more about what it means for the Tokelau community and language learners throughout the country. 

Tau Loa - Perserverence 

Gagana Tokelau goals (daily, weekly, monthly and yearly)


Set goals to help your planning, learning and perseverance in Gagana Tokelau. These could be personal goals, goals as a class, workplace or family. For example:

  • learn 5 new words daily

  • learn 5 phrases weekly

  • learn some Tokelau songs and dances for an assembly or celebratory event

  • learn a traditional art and craft and display it to share with friends and family


Alagākupu (Proverbs)


Alagākupu provide opportunities for engagement, discussion, sharing of knowledge and learning. Use one of the alagākupu from this year’s Tokelau language week poster which explores perseverance:


Tuia te pō ke ao (Work through the night, until dawn, until sunrise. The children are waiting for their catch)

• Tūtia te au ke māmā (Be patient and tolerate the currents)

How does this relate to perseverance and learning Gagana Tokelau? With a Tokelau language buddy to support your learning - grandparent, parent or community member, investigate or research other alagākupu that explore perseverance.

Stories, legends and histories from your village connections


Research and investigate stories, legends and histories from your village connections or connections of Tokelau peers in your class or workplace where tau loa (perseverance) was displayed. Ask family members if there are stories where tau loa was displayed to meet a goal or to reach a destination or aspiration. These stories might even be about migrating from Tokelau to Aotearoa New Zealand.

Learning through na Pehe Tokelau (Tokelau songs)


Learning pehe (songs) can help with language learning and development, it also helps us learn about stories, culture and practices special to Tokelau.


You could find out stories, legends, histories or songs from your village connections where tau loa was displayed from someone in your family or community. You may have parents and grandparents in your school, songs available online, or staff within your organisation that may be able to support you to learn pehe Tokelau.


The ‘Ko Tonuia’ song was composed by Tioni Vulu and ‘Kaimoana’ is by a well-respected elder Lui Kena Soane. The translation and meaning of these songs is provided by Coconet with a rendition sung by Vaniah Toloa, Jewel Tuitama and Gideon Toloa. The Coconet TV clip can be accessed here:

Mamalu ma te Taua - Dignity and Honour

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The kāiga (family) plays a very important role in aganuku Tokelau. Relationships we have with our kāiga teach us various cultural norms and practices such as how we treat each other through fakaaloalo (respect), vā feāloaki (inter-relationships), maopoopo (inclusion) and alofa (compassion), these values help us with social awareness and how we engage in our respective families and communities. These all contribute to how we show pride, dignity and honour for the people we care about, our kāiga and community; they can even connect us to the specific norms of our respective village cultures and protocols.


Mamalu ma te tāua in the class, home and workplace


Using the theme of mamalu ma te tāua, find out what Tokelau words your class, home or workplace you might like to use during Tokelau language week or to use and learn over the year to showcase dignity and honour to those around you. Use Unit 1 from Muakiga! An Introduction to Gagana Tokelau or invite someone who can teach you Gagana Tokelau as an activity for your class, family or workplace.


Plan a Tokelau event or activity to show your pride


Show your pride and celebrate by organising a Tokelau event where you can share Gagana Tokelau and other elements of your Tokelau culture (e.g. food, dance, dress, music) with people from different cultural backgrounds.


Invite elder, grandparent, or leader


In the context of excellence you may wish to invite a local Tokelau elder, grandparent, and parent or community leader to share stories and histories of Tokelau, the language, a traditional artefact and its importance to the culture or to teach a cultural dance or nursery rhyme.

Tokelau Language (2016)

Tagata Pasifika eporter Marama T-Pole caught up with visiting Tokelauan master carver and navigator Vasefenua (Vase) Timo Reupena along with the Atafu Matauala community in Porirua.

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