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Te Kanava Strategy

Te Kanava ushers in a new era of doing things in foreign lands and a space for exploring doing things in a Tokelauan way as they themselves march to nationhood. It embodies a new approach that meshes modern operations systems with traditional support from elders as advisors and spiritual leaders.

Although ‘Te Kanava Strategic Plan 2017-2021’ is an idea that is not new according to the Atafu Tokelau Community Group (ATCG) president, Mr Lehi Tenise Atoni, its formalisation as an official planning document for the organization does signal a paradigm shift for how it aims to deliver services to members & families – some 50 years after their first members arrived in the capital.

“We always knew we were going to have a plan,” says Mr Atoni.

“Over the years our members have always talked about their aspirations and dreams for our community. The conversations gradually evolved from ‘how can we move forward as a community’ to ‘how can we position ourselves and resources to better address our needs’.”

But don’t mistake “us talking about dreams and aspirations” over the years as meaning there were no actions taking place says Mr Atoni.

Source: Pacific Guardians Press Release

Te Kanava Toku Hei

Te kanava, te kanava toku fau

Te puamelo, puamelo toku hei

Te kanava ko koe te nau o Atafu

E he taua, e he uia


I te vao pula manogi o toku fenua

E ola fakatahi ai i te vao o Togaleleva

E ola tatupu, e tu laufenua

Mai te afatea ki te taitea kae a, te taiuli


The kanava my crown

The puamelo my flower

The kanava the pride of Atafu

I cannot be parted with


In the scented forest of Togaleleva

It prospers unrestrained from the sea to the land

Alas, this mighty kanava

An Atafu song composed by Mr Kelihiano Kalolo


The Atafu Tokelau Community Group would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the following people who have contributed to the development of our Te Kanava Strategic Plan.


To Murray Edridge - Deputy Chief Executive (Family and Community Services), Liz Tanielu - National Director Pacific and Marie Schmidt - Lead Advisor Pacific, of the Ministry of Social Development; for advocating on our behalf to access the funding to assist with the production of our Strategic Plan and Capability Assessment Report. Thank you for your investment, dedicated service and belief in our community. Vaioleti Lui for working tirelessly to write and compile this plan, for adhering to our call by volunteering your skills and working so lovingly with our people, to produce a document that navigates our paopao (canoe) into the future.


Thank you Mose Viliamu for your service from the heart, we acknowledge your creative and graphic design skills and expertise that enabled a polished and well presented document that we are very proud of. To Samson Samasoni, Martha Samasoni and Noura Msahli for facilitating our capability assessment and writing up the final report that will assist our community growth. We have enjoyed your astute and intuitive guidance through the many hours of talanoa.


We also extend our gratitude to our elders, parents, young people and our wider Atafu community for your contributions to this plan. It is your ideas, voluntary efforts, successes and hours of discussion about our joint vision that is at the heart of Te Kanava. It is our prayer that you will be proud of our Te Kanava Strategic Plan - this is our vision and hope for a prosperous Atafu today and for generations to come.


Fakafetai, fakafetai lahi lele.


matauala hall.png

When our people of Tokelauan origin arrived to settle in New Zealand after a hurricane damaged the food production of our atoll community, we found that the physical, social and economic environments of the new home were strangely different from that of an atoll environment.


We soon learned that we had to adapt and transition quickly in order for our people’s wellbeing to be sustained.


In the period of adaptation, through observing, learning and coaching, we realised that our spirit as people needed to be resilient and formidable. This strength and resilience is reflected in our vision through the analogy of the Kanava Tree.


We had to remain strong in the face of the new challenges and transition effectively into this new way of life, society and our new home in all aspects of good citizenship.


We believed in the values of our culture as instruments of guidance, as we lived and thrive in our new home land. We might say, with all humility, that the achievements of the Atafu Tokelau Community of Wellington have so far attained, are reflective of our belief in the values of our culture.


An elderly gentleman of the original people who settled in Wellington in the sixties, often said, “We only brought with us the values of our culture that were bestowed upon us by our Tupuna when we came over to our new home”.


But in this modern society we now call home, the Atafu Tokelau Community is scontinuing to adapt to learn other values of this multi-cultural society, that it, in its own small ways, also contribute to the advancement of peace, harmony and prosperity of communities of New Zealand.


Our vision is that this organisation is driven by principles of good governance, values of democracy practiced in our new home.


At this point in time, our community has come a long way; we have established families, sent children to school and gained higher qualifications, others obtained forms of employment. And we still believe we are continuing to adapt to be healthy and be better citizens. Therefore we as people, detached from our island home, are willing to work collaboratively with national and local bodies to attain our vision of progressive citizens, of this multi-cultured and beautiful country of Aotearoa.


Ke i luga o te Fakalāpotopotoga a Atafu i Matauala nei, ma ona Takitaki, te Pelehitene ma te Komiti na fakamanuiga a to tatou Atua, ke lagolago ki te ola fiafia ma te ola malolo o ana fanau i Ueligitone nei. E venā foki na fakanauga alofa mo kilātou e lagolago mai ki taumafaiga a te Fakalapotopotoga tēnei, te Matāeke o Atiakega o Nuku ma Kaiga (Ministry of Social Development) venā ma na Uho Tokelau e fehoahoani ma lagolagogia ienei taumafaiga i lalo o te Peleni Takiala a te Fakalapotopotoga a Atafu i Ueligitone nei, mo te ola manuia o tagata uma.


May the good Lord of All, have his blessings on this organisation and its leadership, to the Government agencies and our Tokelau young people involved in the formation of this plan and its successful implementation to ensure a propagation of goodwill for all peoples.


Dr Iuta Tinielu

Mafutaga Toeaina i Mataual

Te Kanava Strategic Overview

The strategic plan has been gifted the name of Te Kanava which is a native tree (Cordia Subcordata) that flourishes in the forest of Tagaleleva, Atafu.


The roots are well grounded anchoring this tree as a solid foundation. The durability of the timber can withstand elements and therefore the most preferred wood for making traditional canoes and other crafts. The branches of the kanava tree are a safe haven for birds to nest, during stormy weather and a resting place during the migration season.


This symbolises the importance of our community to be a shelter of compassion and care for our people, especially those most vulnerable in our community.


Te Kanava is known to grow in challenging environmental conditions and therefore becomes an inspiration to our organisation to be resilient, to be adaptive in our pursuit for opportunities that advance our community in a rapidly changing society and world.


Toku kāiga, he kānava, he fau e hē uia.

My community, my heritage, a gift that is forever treasured.

Vision, Mission, Values & Principles


“Our Atafu-Tokelau community aims to be an anchor for our families to be strong, resilient, well-connected and thriving”


The Atafu Tokelau Community Group provides educational programmes, social support services and a community facility that promotes the social, economic and cultural wellbeing of Tokelau people and their families.

Core Values
  • Fakaaloalo – respect, dignity

  • Alofa – love and compassion

  • Ola faka-te-agaga – spiritual beliefs

  • Tautua – service and support to others

Guiding Principles

  • Alofa ki te tama manu – compassion towards the most vulnerable in the community

  • Taofi ke mau ki na kupu a na tupuna – holdfast to the words of elders

  • Fai nuku – active patriotism

  • Loto mau – steadfast and perseverance

  • Loto nuku – patriotism to your village/nation

  • Loto tahi – of one heart and in unity

  • Loto fealofani – a harmonious and peaceful heart

  • Inati – principle of collective responsibility and sharing

Strategic Goals


To deliver on the facility transformation project which meets the current and e-future needs of the community that is multi-purpose, digital and a cultural centre of learning.


To provide educational programmes and support services that lift academic achievement, gainful career pathways, employment, health, business enterprise, cultural and social wellbeing of Tokelau people and their families with a particular focus on those in most need.


To promote, contribute and provide intergenerational educational programmes that preserve, maintain and revitalises Tokelau heritage language, culture and identity.


Commit to an effective and efficient organisation that enables financial and asset sustainability and stewardship.


To promote and provide skills training and opportunities that enable a well-governed organisation with policies, procedures and practises in place for the Executive to carry out their responsibilities.


Being proactive to promote and advance representation of Tokelau issues, circumstances and viewpoints in various decision-making areas.

Governance & Management


By December 2019 we will have upskilled members of the community to be effective in governance and operational management and contribute their skills to the wider community.

Strategic Focus

By December 2016 we will have completed a capability self-assessment and have a capability-building plan related to effective Governance and operational management;

By December 2017 we will have trained and educated members of Executive Committee and other targeted community members in effective Governance and operational management;


By December 2018 the Trust will comply with best practice approaches in Governance and operational management; and


By December 2019 members of the committee will play an active role in other community, regional and national organisations in Governance or management roles. This will include the representation of Tokelau viewpoints and perspectives in local community organisations, as well as local bodies and government agencies



By December 2021 we will have improved the overall health of the target Atafu Tokelau community in Porirua.

Strategic Focus

By December 2017 we will have established a programme focused on regular exercise and healthy eating;


By December 2018 we will have established a programme focussed on family wellness, including stress management and mental wellness; and


By December 2019 we will have established an Elderly Daycare programme.



By December 2019 we will have established education programmes that will improve the educational attainment rates of young people in the Atafu Porirua community.

Strategic Focus

By December 2018 we will have established School Holiday Programmes; and


By December 2019 we will have improved National Standards and National Certificate of Educational Achievement rates of young people within the Atafu Porirua community by:

  • Establishing a programme focussed on intermediate-age children

  • Implementing a programme targetting parents to enable them to provide better support for their school-age children

  • Implementing a leadership talent programme that enhances the potential of our young people.

Culture & Identity


By December 2019 we will have improved knowledge and understanding of target communities about Tokelau culture, identiy and language.

Strategic Focus

By December 2017 we will have established an Adult Tokelau Language Learning programme;


By December 2018 we will have developed a Tokelau language app to support the improvement of spoken Tokelauan amongst the Atafu Porirua community, both parents and youth; and


By December 2018 we will have established a Tokelau arts and craft programme.



By December 2019 we will have improved the home ownership rates of the Atafu Porirua community and improved the standard of housing and accommodation.

Strategic Focus

By December 2019 we will have implemented programmes focussed on:

  • Attaining home ownership by introducing a financial planning and management programme, ensuring all participants are aware of the services and schemes available to support their ambition; and

  • Providing skills to the community related to home maintenance, repairs and upgrades.



By December 2021 we will have established commercial activities that will contribute to the economic viability of the Trust and create employment opportunities for target communities.

Strategic Focus

During 2017 we will explore the feasibility of three business enterprises run by the Trust:

  • Tourism Project – using the Matauala centre as a potential base for hosting tourists for cultural activities and marketing Tokelau arts & craft;

  • Catering – potential for establishing a catering business for in-house and external catering opportunities; and

  • Events and Cultural Centre – establishing the Matauala centre as a multi-purpose events centres for functions, conferences and other community activities.


During 2018 prioritise and project plan the most viable business activities as those most likely to generate employment and positive commercial outcomes; and


Between 2019-2021, implement the agreed business activities so they are fully-functioning by December 2021.

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