25 October 2007
General Assembly
GA/COL/3166

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

TOKELAU FALLS SHY OF SELF-GOVERNMENT BY 16 VOTES AFTER FOUR DAYS

 

OF BALLOTING IN SELF-DETERMINATION REFERENDUM

 


ATAFU, TOKELAU, 24 October -- The result of Tokelau’s self-determination referendum was announced on the atoll of Atafu, after the fourth and final day of voting on Wednesday.


While 64.4 per cent of voters supported the option of self-government in free association with New Zealand, that was not sufficient to meet the two-thirds majority required, as set by Tokelau’s General Fono (Tokelau’s national representative body), to change its status.


A total of 692 valid votes were cast in Tokelau’s second referendum on self-government in free association with New Zealand, with 446 votes in favour to 246 votes against.  That left the count just 16 votes short of the 462 that would have been required to change Tokelau’s status.


The referendum, held between 20-24 October, was conducted in the presence of a United Nations electoral monitoring mission, which deemed the election process credible and as reflecting the will of the people.


Speaking at a ceremony following the announcement of the result, the representative of the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization (Committee of 24), Ambassador Robert Aisi of Papua New Guinea, said that while he recognized the disappointment for those hoping to celebrate a “yes” vote on future self-government for Tokelau, it was important to take pride in the fact that the process had taken place fairly and transparently.  “For its part, the Special Committee will of course respect this decision by Tokelau.”


Mr. Aisi also noted that while two thirds of Tokelauans may not yet have formally voted “yes” to the responsibilities of self-government, in many respects Tokelau was already running its own affairs.


“The Special Committee has long been in awe of the fact that this small community of 1,500 people has been fully able, amongst many other things, to manage its own budget, run its own public services, and take care of its own shipping service and telecommunication system,” he said.


“At the same time, Tokelau has been playing a role in regional affairs and managing relationships with its Pacific neighbours, not to mention being a member of a number of regional and international organizations and groupings.  This all represents a series of achievements of which Tokelau can be very proud,” he said.


Mr. Aisi acknowledged the unique, longstanding and active cooperation demonstrated by both Tokelau and New Zealand in the process of self-determination.


“It should serve as a role model for other administering Powers and Non-Self-Governing Territories as the way forward in their efforts towards decolonization,” Mr. Aisi said.


New Zealand’s Administrator of Tokelau, David Payton, said the result showed there was still a considerable amount of talking to do within the Tokelau community.  “It will be up to the Tokelau community to determine how it moves forward.  As it does so, it will continue to have New Zealand’s full support,” he added.


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For information media • not an official record