Ethnology of Tokelau Islands
Nukunono or Nukunonu lies 60 miles northwest of Fakaofu. Its position is given as lat. 9° 10′ S. and long. 171° 53′ 30″ W., but local ship captains say that this position is from 14 to 16 miles too far east, and they make a correction accordingly when laying a course for the island.
Nukunono is the largest island in the group, being 24 miles in circumference and 1,350 acres in area. The longest land mass stretches along the eastern reef. The northern reef is bare and awash. A few islets are sprinkled across the southern side of the reef. The village is on a large islet along the southwest coast (fig. 3). There is no anchorage or passage through the reef to the village, but the sea is protected here and jumping the reef is not very dangerous. Formerly there was a passage through to the lagoon, but it was filled in during a hurricane. In 1914 another hurricane made a deep cut through the southern end of the islet and created the present small islet, Motusanga, south of the village islet. Due to the lack of an adequate water supply, the population has always been relatively small. In 1925 it numbered 229.
The names of the islets and land holdings on the accompanying map (fig. 3) are those given by a native informant. The number of names of islets does not correspond with the number of islets given on existing maps. Sixty of the names given are land divisions on the long eastern island. There is some doubt as to whether Saumangalu and Niututalu are the names of islands or the first two holdings on the long island.