Swains: The Sustainable Island

Swains: The Sustainable Island

Just 200 nautical miles north of ʻĀpia, Hōkūleʻa came upon this pristine jewel in the immense Pacific, the island of Olohega, more commonly referred to as Swains Island.

“Swains island as you can see, is a remote island. Through studies, it is one of the important stopovers for sea-farers,” says Swains Island Representative, Alex Jennings.

It is the prime example of how a determined people, with a deep connection to place, have sustained themselves and the island’s resources thru changing times and industry and now want to position there home as a model for sustainable living.

“Everything on this island was strictly conserved from our fish resources which is our greatest source of food was our ocean,” says Jennings.

Swains once supported a booming copra industry that yielded 40 tons of dried coconut every 3 months. To ensure this thriving eco-system, they planted over 800 acres of kumu niu, or coconut trees, maintaining balance in this precious environment.

“In the essence of here is what Hawaiʻi should be. That becomes both the reality and a symbol of the things that we hope for in our islands. Swains is this place with an amazing history, Swains is this place that it should be a school for the Earth. My sense is what’s missing in the rest of the world that’s in Swains, is that there is a deep connection between all of you to a single place on the planet which you call home,” says Thompson.

ʻŌiwi TV reaches across generations, socio-economic statuses, and geographic locations as the sole media venue where the Hawaiian language, culture and perspective thrive. Through Digital Channel 326, ʻŌiwi TV reaches over 220,000 households across the entire State via Oceanic Time Warner Cable’s network. Through its website, mobile, and social media venues, ʻŌiwi TV is reaching Hawaiians everywhere and engaging a generation of Hawaiians that expect to access anything and everything from anywhere at anytime.


  1. Ilai Manu 6 years ago

    Give back Swains Island (Olohega) to TOKELAU #givebackolohega

    • Mark Seidenberg 1 year ago

      Swains Atoll was never part of Tokelau. Quiros Atoll was a United States Island under the Guano Islands Act of 1856.

      It was a false statement that Captain W. C. Swain told Captain Hudson of the United States Navy prior to 1840
      about discovering that island. It was Obed Swain of the
      ship “Jefferson” that told Captain Hudson about the discovery of Swain’s Atoll in 1839 at Tahiti.

      Eli Jennings purchased Swains Island in 1856. Both Duke of York Atoll and Duke of Clarence Atoll were also US Guano Islands until 1983. Bowditch Atoll was not a Guano Island,
      But one of its islands was owned by the American Benj. Hughes from 1863 – 1902.

  2. Lee 6 years ago

    STOLEN from TOKELAU and perpetuated by false journalism!

  3. 'tautua' 6 years ago

    Tokelau haloa, na tupunua ni!

  4. Simeti Tulafono 6 years ago

    Return Olohega to Tokelau!!

  5. Angela Faanunu 6 years ago
  6. Patrick Pedro 6 years ago

    This video is sensationalizing a lie that is being perpetuated by those claiming they own Olohega. ‘Oiwi TV should do justice to this island by researching its history thoroughly. Isn’t that what journalism should be? The majority of the Olohega people on this video do not reside on the island. Some of them are direct descendants of the Tokelauans that were forcefully evicted from Olohega by the Jennings. For them to be lured back to Olohega for the production of this video is beyond comprehension. Their evicted ancestors must be turning over in their graves. As you can see from the comments above, the Olohega descendants know the history very well, and want Olohega to be returned to its rightful owner – Tokelau.

  7. Siniva 6 years ago

    Wow,clear the air people !!! I was born in Swains Island and too bad you feel that way and disappointed , to educated you your dad did not born in Swains island and you too . Have some respect for your elders , I pretty sure you can say anything you want if you were born there !!( Haloa na Kaiga ) you know is a saying : Reson for everything !!! What happen is you all need to move on and clear the air cause never know what happen today , tomorrow or when ever !!! Life is too short . Be happy !!! I am 🙂

  8. Olohenga 6 years ago

    These journalist made out ologenga to be a Hawaiian island , because the people of the island were forced to leave and found home in Hawaii.. But no one wants to see and acknowledge the true identity of ologenga that is Tokelau and what was done.. I believe that the people of ologenga you see in the video clip are the ones who have truly suffered and no other island has the right or should interfere , in saying that everyone will always know including the people of ologenga thier origin. Island of Tokelau.

  9. Pelasio 6 years ago

    return Olohega to Tokelau
    Deuteronomy 27:17 (KJV) Cursed be he that removeth his neighbour’s landmark. And all the people shall say , Amen.
    It is shocking what the Jennings family along with Samoa and America did.. But even more sad NZ allowed it.

  10. Patrick Pedro 6 years ago

    I have respect for my elders, namely my grandparents, dad and those who were forcefully evicted from Olohega at gunpoint, but are not kissing up to those who evicted them. Clear the air? Yes, all of Tokelau wants to clear the stench, not pour perfume into it. I wasn’t born in Olohega, but I’ve been there more than most of you, and I know its history very well. You should read up on it sometime. It burned painfully in my dad’s heart. It burns painfully in the heart of most of the surviving Olohega elders here in Hawaii. If you are happy, good for you. You are entitled to your own opinion.

    • Agnes 4 years ago

      Good on you Patrick Pedro!

    • Sausaumoana 2 years ago

      you talk about your father when he not here to put you in your place. or slap your mouth. I know your Dad too well. You talking now cause he isn’t here.

  11. Leo Kauone 6 years ago


  12. Ana Isaac 6 years ago

    Swains Island or Olohega….was STOLEN. from the exploited plantation workers and defenceless people of. TOKELAU… who were ordered at gunpoint to leave their island home…by a US plantation owner… Sounds similar to US cotton plantation owners, ill treatment of slaves…and round about the same too… To make matters worse… the US and NZ govt officials, turned a blind eye and enabled it to happen…and this continues today…so on we go…

    • Agnes 4 years ago

      Absolutely Ana!

  13. Siniva 5 years ago

    Every one entitle for their own oppion that’s true. I have had attacked cause I went back to Swains Island w/the Jennings to support them ? I go as I please when n where !!! n had a great time .Talofae, Some people when they get angry they show their true colors n no respect at all . U get upset cause the Jennings to give back Swains Island . Here is my motive for you my dad own land in Atafu my Mom n her sibling have land in Fakaofo n my brothers n Sister own property in Am .Samoa all of those properties they collect money from it . Do I get angry or they take advantage of me . U get angry put you in my shoes !!!.my medication for all of you is Peace and love.i love my Kaiga n I am a peace maker.

    • Sausaumoana 2 years ago

      Siniva. Respect your Elders is a waste to tell someone that wasn’t born in Swain 😉 He was raised more American way. Patrick are you all jealous of Auntie Magaret Pedro’s kids? It smells like it . Your Dad never had such hatred like you guys. Not around my Dad who is a Jennings or me or My family. Paulo was so nice, loving and your Mom too. He even offer to take me to Swain on his boat for FREE. You never mention the great relationship your Dad and his sibling had with the Jennings. Whats up with that? Nothing but HATE! HATE! HATE! Your followers are like those people that would drink the fruit punch to get to heaven. Nathan mention or was it you? that say Jennings are NOT Tokelauan. What am I? a Atafuan? Fakaofoans? As for ancestors must be turning over in their graves. You are the one will be turning over your grave, restless soul with all that hatred. My Ancestors , are all fine at resting peacefully,ty. Return home to Tokelau to be with love ones. They are all waiting for me. A True Tokelau. is Love not hate.

      • Sausaumoana 2 years ago

        Margaret :))) Pedro.

        • Sausaumoana 2 years ago

          why did your father have a good brother/sister relationship with All the Jennings, not with Margret Pedro kids, All the Jennings? It was his boat that took the Jennings to and from samoa to Swain? Nathan Pedro’s youtube video of Swain Island. Aunty Nillie “Mz. my mother cry, I cry”. She in Hawaii singing, dancing with the Jennings and call them her family Love, Love so fake. Video was scripted cut and redo. Fake. That dude talking about signing a pepa. Trying to cover his ass. He was the one forcing and rushing the non-english speaking Tokelau to sign the pepa. Now, he saying he told them not to sign it. Bullshit.

          Here you go, straight out of the horse’s mouth… your oldest sister .

          The Jennings family ran a copra plantation on Olohega, but poor living conditions led many workers to leave, Ickes said.

          Many settled in Wahiawa, she said.

          • Sausaumoana 2 years ago

            not just with Margret’s kids* Its just sad to see family Pedro vs Pedro. I’m a Jennings we do fight and love again. But this is out for the kill, I can the hatred in Patrick Pedro. Sad, he just a moemimi. The only one that love to bark bark is Paulo kids. sorry , my englishy isn’t good 🙂 Wow! To take a freaking long boat ride or plane to go to Samoa, Hawaii or to NZ. Tokelau , Atafu and Fakaofo is right next to Olohega. Take a canoe or swim. You all were NOT ALLOWED to return to Atafu or Fakaofo. Why? You all disrespect the Elders. They told you all, Not to go. Stay put. Filemu ur muli in Fakaofo and Atafu. You rather go Olohega party, drink free, fuck one another , no rules , no religious. Til Uncle Alex Eli took charge, set rules. they didn’t like it. So, Uncle Alex evicted your asses.

          • Sausaumoana 2 years ago

            I can FEEEEEL the hatred in Patrick Pedro*

          • jules tirel 2 years ago

            Question: How do you run a copra plantation on an island that is not owned by any one person or family? An island that is culturally part of the Tokelau island group (Tu Ha). There are no kings, queens or kingdoms on the islands. So who set you up to be owner and ruler over the land? the people?
            White people use Manifest Destiny. They just take it cause they want it. They also use indentured servants to do the work they are too lazy to do themselves. An island is the perfect place to use these white man tactics. captured audience, and little contact from the outside world. its all good for the plantation owner and all the money he is making. But all the others are being screwed. Think about it just a little, to say i own the island is not a Tokelauan way to think. To use communal properties, plants, trees…. to make a profit for yourself is not a Tokelauan way to act. To take advantage of the people on the island is surely not a tokelauan way to be. and especially if you are saying we are family……. how could you think so highly of yourself that you would step on your blood for a profit.
            I will give my view, and you can answer the question for yourself.
            Bottom line Eli was a white man, doing white man things, in the white man way, for the white man money. Now to the people that are just looking in casually, it seems status quo, little island with a king making a profit off the copra. and to the decedents of this guy, well its all good we got and island under American white man law. So its a time to puff out your chest and say we own this. and it is ours. Well to those who are looking in from a Tokelauan perspective……. it stinks. its not right, its not Tokelauan. Born here born there, really does it matter. whats your mindset, white man american manifest destiny or Tokelauan. you take quotes, then take them all……. Olohega is part of Tokelau. no matter what has happened, who signed what. To the Tokelauan its part of Tokelau. If you are claiming to be Tokelauan, then make it right by the elders that you say are being disrespected. Not the white men with white ways and white plans. No, the elders of the Tokelau Islands: Atafu, Nukunonu, Fakaofo, Olohega. The ones before, way back in time. Anything short of this is disrespectful to all that came before.

        • Sausaumoana 2 years ago

          Our Family were allowed to go to Atafu & Fakaofo. Tokelau people and Our Tokelau families all there to greet my family with open arms .Visit or Live. Back the days was different. That is why its good to respect your elders. Now you are crying….hahaha!! I’m done. Peace and Love.

          • Sausaumoana 2 years ago

            Back in the days was different. Our Elders rule!!!!

  14. Patrick Pedro 5 years ago

    Respect is earned.
    I have the utmost respect for my parents. Do you have respect for yours?
    When a gun was pointed at your father, grandpa Tama, and your family forcefully evicted from their home, are you happy with that?
    Upon disembarking at Pago Harbor, your family (my grandparents, dad and his siblings including you) was mockingly and sarcastically auctioned off as cows by the Jennings. Are you happy with that? Are you happy with someone calling your mother a cow?
    That family spit at my dad’s feet, as well as at your other older siblings’ feet all the time. Are you happy with that.
    I can go on and on about what I’ve been told by my dad and other uncles and aunties.
    As far as I know, not one of your older siblings, alive or otherwise, my dad included, was ever happy with any of that. Neither am I for that matter. I’m quite sure that I’m not the only one in this generation who feels this way about the way our parents and grandparents were treated.
    My true color is not painting roses where none exist.
    We all go wherever and whenever we please. Did you suddenly decide to go to Swains this time, and it somehow coincided with this Hokulea voyage? It doesn’t matter now, really.
    All those lands you mentioned are irrelevant, and have nothing to do with Olohega. I’ve seen the lands in Atafu and Fakaofo. Have you?
    We can continue down this path, but I do have respect for your kids (my cousins). Therefore, I’ll stop here. The world can read all the other comments above and know that Swain’s rightful owner is Tokelau. The only route to peace is the return of Olohega to Tokelau!!!! TOKELAU KE OLA!

    • Anna Pedro 3 years ago

      Patrick it sounds like you are very educated on our family history. My father had told me bits and pieces of the story. My grandmother was Totoa Pedro grandfather David. I heard that part of our family was sold into slavery. Is that how your family ended up in Hawaii? Im also told that swains actually belongs to the Pedros. This is so interesting to me and id like to learn about my family history more.

  15. Tetoa. Falani 5 years ago

    Please return what doesn’t belong to you. Return Olohega to it’s rightful owner., Tokelau. She doesn’t belong to America nor does she belong to any family other then the Atu Tokelau family group. The time will come when this lie will be dealt with by honest good people. There will be factions who don’t understand the pain of loss, displacement and humiliation of the worst kind (Siniva) that will make life more difficult to an already difficult and unjustified situation. But soon they will see the error of their ways. TKO

  16. Onosa'i 5 years ago

    Siniva, with all due respect, you need to do a little more research on the so called Swains Island you were born in, or whatever coconut tree you fell from. Growing up I’ve always known that Island as Tokelau island and I have ancestors that dated way back before your parents even met that were born on that Tokelau island, and planted and grew all the coconut trees on the island, in which one you might’ve fell from.

    Just because you were born there doesn’t mean you know the real history of the island. My family are suffering the abuse during their days. My opinion only!

    Male Fa’aaloalo Lava!


  17. Joe Jennings 5 years ago

    Joe Jennings,
    I’m sorry to hear you all cry desperately to give up the island, you all know damn well it’s all legal documents on paper in court that it’s belong to no other but U.S. The JENNINGS FAMILY!!! End of bitching and crying cause that all you going to do and get .. It will forever belong to this family..

  18. D.Denham 5 years ago

    Years back (1957) I was at Swains Island on the USS Ulvert M. Moore DE442. The radio was out on the island and we were sent there to find out if all was well as it had been months since any contact. We repaired the radio and found the Island people so very nice made me want to stay. The white beach and looking out on the blue water was like no outher, such beauty.

  19. Leilei 4 years ago

    Leo Kauone, Swains Island belongs to the:

  20. Mad Māeli 4 years ago

    Hudson, Wilkes, Turnbull?, Congress, Treaty haha… Jennings killed that Frenchman Tyrell whom never got to return to his partner and child on Olohega. According to an American whaler; the coordinates of a Spanish navigator were incorrect haha. Fabricate, create confusion, and conquer! Good on ya congress with your confederate carry-on; another diaspora out of the Middle East. Gotta make that money honey haha… America, give yourselves another pat on the back. God or money dog! God or money…

  21. tony 4 years ago

    the truth will alway revealed no matter what or how long

  22. Aleli 4 years ago

    Swains island will always be JENNINGS FAMILY ISLAND!

    • tony 4 years ago

      What’s right ins’t always popular and what’s popular isn’t always right

  23. Agnes 4 years ago

    Joe Jennings, are you related to the Jenning that married (Margaret) daughter to John Jose Pedro?

  24. tony 4 years ago

    Tautelevaka & Julels Tirel. childs name Carlos or Kaloha.In God he trust.E tuai mai Kae pa mai

  25. Vasa 3 years ago

    Born in Rotorua, Aotearoa. Told to go home to my own land haha. To every nation God gave a heavenly being, but to Isreal, he chose them to be his people. Olohega belongs to me! God is my witness.

  26. tony 3 years ago

    Kaloha Tirel. Born OLOHEGA. 1848.

  27. Helena 2 years ago

    Olohega was taken from Alexander Su’a son of Vagivagi McCarthy, step son of Ilai Jennings the 2nd.
    Alexander Su’a later changed his name to Alexander Ilai Jennings. It is him who evicted everyone off Olohega. Alexander Su’a is NOT a Jennings!
    Alexander Su’a is one evil man! Who treated the people of Olohega and Jennings family no good once he got the authority to “rule” the island. It is him and his family we should know about.
    It is his family who are doing wrong. They are the ones who bring disgrace to the true Jennings family!
    The true Jennings family are just like the rest of the Tokelauan people can’t step foot on Olohega unless we get permission from no other than the family of Alexander Su’a 😡

  28. Tony 2 years ago

    Jules Tirel (Tyrell) In God he trust. E tuai mai kae pa mai.

  29. Tony 2 years ago

    Heiena. In the Bible. Matthew.7.4-5. How dare you say to your brother.Please. let me take that speck out of your eye. when you have a log in your own eye.You hypocrite! First take the log out of your own eye. and then you will be able to see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.(Eli 1. had dispossessed an eight-year-old Carlos Tyrell.)During the summer of 1917,several native, fomer residents of Olohega, filed chages of cruety and inhuman treatmen against Eli 2.in the court of (British) Western Samoa.Sausaumoana know your gafa or puni to gutu. Ko koe e cousin ki a Patrick ko koe e cousin ki a Helena. te kino mai o koutou. Tatau ki tatou uma talanoa. Aloha atu ite igoa o Iesu.

  30. Tony 2 years ago

    jules tirel. Are you descendant of Tautelevaka and Jules Tirel. If your not. (PLEASE RESPECT)

  31. Mua Espino 2 years ago


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