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Ethnology of Tokelau Islands

Water Supply

Water Supply

The rainfall in the Tokelau Islands comes mainly from daily showers during the trade wind season and an occasional downpour. The record of rainfall for 9 months in one year, October to July, was 134 inches (24). The rain was very irregular, however, and fell mostly at the end of the period. From the end of November to the end of February the rainfall is less and periods of drought often set in.

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Fakaofu has several wells and a modern cistern of 11,150 gallons capacity, filled from the catchment area of the roof of the Protestant Church. Nukunono has one poor well. Atafu has three wells but only one is available to the village. This well water is slightly brackish and not extremely clean. During the dry months wells frequently dry up and the natives must rely upon coconuts to drink. Before modern cisterns were built, the natives hollowed out the lower part of the trunks of coconut trees, leaving the opening on the under side of the trunk so that the rain streaming down the trunk could be collected in a place unexposed to the sun. From these meager supplies the natives drew their drinking water. When all supplies failed over a long period without rain, the natives were forced to abandon their homes.