2018 Seawalls of Tokelau


Tokelau – Discover more about life atop an extinct volcanic peak. Settled about 1,000 years ago, these low-lying coral atolls are home to around 1,500 people who inhabit its limited 12 square kilometres of land. With rising sea levels a pertinent problem for these islands, seawalls serve as a frontline defence against erosion and inundation.

The latest issue from Tokelau offers a glimpse into one of the realities of life on these low-lying coral atolls. Nukunonu, Atafu and Fakaofo all sit atop extinct volcanic peaks, barely five metres above sea level. This unique island nation is at the frontlines of climate change, facing drought, tsunamis, cyclones and rising sea levels. Seawalls, erected to prevent erosion and in defense of shoreline dwellings, are built by locals using a variety of methods. Tokelau’s rising vulnerability to natural disasters is already evident with increased coastal erosion, storm surges and inundation as the sea level rises. Villages continue to carry out work for coastal protection by way of seawall construction and maintenance.

These striking images were taken by New Zealand Post’s Stamps and Coins designer, Saint Andrew Matautia.

45c In the Face of Climate Change 

Tokelau is at the frontlines of climate change, facing drought, tsunamis, cyclones and rising sea levels. This seawall faces the ocean side of Nukunonu.

$1.40 Lagoon Side

Seawalls feature on both ocean side and lagoon side shorelines of Tokelau. Fakaofo lagoon is shallow and dotted with coral outcrops.

$2.00 Rising Seas 

Situated ocean side of Fakaofo, this seawall helps to protect these buildings from rising sea levels and storm surges.

$3.00 Life Atop a Volcano

Ocean side of Nukunonu, there is little to indicate in this image just how vulnerable these dwellings are. Sitting at no more than five metres above sea level, the maintenance of Tokelau’s seawalls is vital.

  • 02.05.2018
  • Saint Andrew Matautia, New Zealand Post, Wellington, New Zealand
  • Collectables and Solutions Centre, New Zealand Post, Whanganui, New Zealand
  • 4 Colours
  • 30mm x 40mm (horizontal)
  • 45c, $1.40, $2.00 & $3.00