Tokelau means 'North Wind' and consists of three atolls (Fakaofo, Nukunonu, and Atafu) located approximately 720 km north-west of Samoa. It has a combined land area of 12 km² and is no more than 2 m above sea level. Tokelau is a Polynesian territory of New Zealand and has a population of only 1,400 people.
Tokelau is most vulnerable to tropical cyclones which are becoming more severe and frequent due to climate change. The islands climate is hot with an average temperature of 28 degrees Celsius. Severe tropical storms and cyclones are closely linked to El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions with previous damaging events occurring in 1987,1990, 1991 and 2005 causing extensive damage to houses and general infrastructure, due to the low-lying nature. The most recent disaster event was Tropical Cyclone Percy that hit Tokelau in February 2005 causing damage to vegetation and infrastructure. Three cyclones in the late 1980s and early 1990s also caused extensive damage.
Changing weather patterns and high sea level rises are expected to impact Tokelau’s long-term survival. Its resilience to natural disasters is considered low due to its remoteness, inaccessibility by air or sea port, and lack of fresh water supply.
At the end of December 2017, the Tokelau Meteorological Office was re - established with a fully functional office. The re - establishment of a fully functional Meteorological Office will further enhance and improve early warning system for the island nation. Tokelau has a national strategy for enhancing the Resilience of Tokelau to Climate Change and related natural hazards 2017 – 2030. Tokelau has also developed its National Disaster Risk Reduction Plan.