Tokelau used the national flag of the Republic of New Zealand for a very long period until they designed and adopted their own flag. The Tokelauan flag displays a yellow Tokelauan canoe sailing towards the Southern Cross. The canoe is against a blue background. There are also four five-pointed stars on the left side of the flag. The parliament approved the flag in 2008, making it a national emblem. On September 7, 2009, Tokelau’s governor general officially presented the flag to the Ulu-o-Tokelau. It was on this day that the flag was adopted as a state flag.

The Tokelauan canoe represents the people’s quest for good governance. The Southern Cross depicts provision of a path towards finding best governance structures. The blue background represents the ocean that surrounds the island. It also stands for the sky which displays the stars that give direction to the inhabitants of Tokelau. The white stars symbolize Christianity. White also shows the unity demonstrated by the people and their shared vision for a better livelihood for all Tokelauans. The yellow color of the canoe demonstrates both a happy and peaceful people inhabiting the nation of Tokelau.

The designer of the national flag is not known, but a competition was held to get suggestions of the kind of flag best suited for Tokelau. Finally, the best design was picked and approved by parliament. Queen Elizabeth II approved the flag in September of 2009.

There were several proposals for flags before the current national flag of Tokelau was adopted. The first one was in 1989 whereby the proposed flag had three yellow circles on a blue background. The circles had three stars inscribed on them. Later on, in 2007, the parliament proposed another flag. The flag had a Polynesian canoe and four stars against a blue background. The fourth star represented Swains Island while the rest were the three atolls of Tokelau. However, the flag was never adopted due to the lack of a supermajority during the self-determination referendum held that year.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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