In Tokelau, a fight to reclaim homes from rising tides

While Tokelauan families with means have been able to repair their sections of the seawall, others unable to afford construction costs have been left adrift. Photo: RNZ Pacific/Mackenzie Smith

A SMALL 2-metre sea wall is all that protects Tokelau’s Fakaofo atoll from the rising tides, and waters already lap at its highest point.

But there are gaps even in the tiny defence it offers Fale, Fakaofo’s main islet.

In one corner, four huge concrete blocks have fallen on their side and lie useless as the tide rushes by them and up into the empty husk of Fofo Poasa’s former home.

The damage is hardly new – Mr Poasa and his family abandoned it in 1972, fleeing to New Zealand.

“Without a wall here, their property might as well be beach,” said John Puka, a friend of Mr Poasa’s.

While Tokelauan families with means have been able to repair their sections of the seawall, others unable to afford construction costs have been left adrift, said Mr Puka.

The lost home on Fale points to the wider threat climate change poses to Tokelau, which shares the 2-metre separation from sea level across its three atolls.

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