|(1,400 in Tokelau cited 1987)|
17 in Swains Island, 2,100 elsewhere, mostly New Zealand (no date)
Official language in
Horatio Hale was the first person to publish a Tokelauan dictionary of sorts, which he did in 1846. Rather than being the accepted definition of dictionary, it was a reference that only contained 214 entries of vocabulary. Hale’s publication remained the only published Tokelauan reference until 1969. However, Tokelauan had been instituted into schools in the late 1940s, so prior to this publication, there wasn’t much headway made in the teaching of the language. In 1969, the New Zealand Department of Education published D. W. Boardman’s Tokelau-English Vocabulary. This second, more advanced reference was a collection of around 1200 vocabulary entries. In the times that passed after the second publication, the necessity of a more detailed and in depth reference to the language for the purpose of education with the Tokelauan community was realized by Hosea Kirifi (who later became the first Tokelau Director of Education) and J. H. Webster. In the year 1975, Kirifi and Webster published the first official precursory Tokelauan dictionary, which contained an estimated 3000 items, called the Tokelau-English Dictionary. This entire movement was based on the fact that the Tokelauan people take a great deal of pride in their language. Tokelauan schools lacked an abundance of resources and materials that could be used to education their children on the language. It has a high place in their culture, and the revitalization and renewal of the language for their younger generation had eventually reached a point where action had to be taken. One year after the publication of the 1975 Tokelau-English Dictionary, the government approved the installation of Ropati Simona who was to head the Tokelau Dictionary Project. This eventually led to the publication of the first comprehensive Tokelauan dictionary, Tokelau Dictionary by the Office of Tokelau Affairs in 1986.