Tokelau’s Flag depicts a Tokelauan canoe sailing towards the manu (Southern Cross). The canoe symbolises Tokelau’s journey towards finding the best governance structure for its people; the Southern Cross symbolises a navigational aid for the journey. The Southern Cross has helped Tokelauan fishermen navigate the waters around Tokelau for centuries while they have fished to sustain families and villages with its riches.
The white stars of the Southern Cross are a symbol of Christianity, an important part of everyday life in Tokelau. White also signifies the cooperation and unity among the atolls of Tokelau and a shared aspiration to secure a better life for Tokelauans. Yellow signifies a happy, peaceful community. Blue signifies the ocean on which Tokelauans depend for their livelihood and is also the colour of the sky which holds the stars that direct Tokelau’s people.
Tokelau’s flag has been under development for a number of years. In 2007 a competition was held to design a new flag and the final version, approved by Tokelau’s General Fono in February this year, is based on the winning design. As is customary for official flags of the Commonwealth, the flag was granted a Royal Licence by Her Majesty the Queen in August 2009.
The official blazon (technical description in heraldic terminology) of the flag is:
Azure a Tokelau Canoe Or in the hoist a constellation of the Southern Cross composed of four Mullets Argent. [Azure = blue; Or = gold or yellow; Argent = silver, but normally shown as white]
In lay terms the description is:
On a blue flag a stylised Tokelauan canoe (in full sail) in yellow and in the hoist (position nearest the pole) four white Mullets (heraldic stars).
Tokelau received its first official flag from the Governor-General, Hon Sir Anand Satyanand, at Government House on 7 September 2009.
Tokelau has also adopted a national symbol. The symbol depicts a Tuluma, a uniquely Tokelauan carver wooden “tackle box” used by fishermen. The Tuluma bears a white cross in the centre, symbolising Christianity. The inscription Tokelau mo te Atua (Tokelau for God) describes the strong emphasis on Christianity in every day life in Tokelau.