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UN Looks At New Zealand As A Colonial Power

New Zealand's little known role as a 'colonial' power goes before a United Nations Committee shortly.

The UN's Special Committee On Decolonization has begun its consideration of small island non-self governing territories, amongst these is Tokelau.

Tokelau is one of the less controversial territories without self-rule. Other islands being looked at include New Caledonia, American Samoa, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guam, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St. Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands.

Tokelau is made up of three small atolls in the South Pacific and is a New Zealand administered Territory.

On 3 August 1998, the General Fono (the national representative body) endorsed a comprehensive report that addressed the core issue in creating a constitutional framework for Tokelau -- how to construct a self-governing nation based on the village.

In accordance with the recommendations of the report, a new electoral system was instituted for the General Fono resulting in elections in January 1999 geared towards its reform. The working paper states that the newly elected body reflects a generational change with younger and more formally educated delegates. That situation is expected to promote continuity in administration, as well as provide the basis for the development of a sense of professionalism.

New Zealand's position is that the new governance arrangements, scheduled to come into effect on 1 July, demonstrate a good balance between Tokelau's instinctive wish to be more economically self- reliant and the fact that, as an economic unit, it is too small to be able to call on all the resources, skills and advice it needs to improve its standard of life.

The Government's view is that the people of Tokelau have expressed a strong preference for a status of free association with New Zealand and that the issue of self-determination was under their active consideration.

On 3 December 1998, the UN General Assembly adopted its resolution 53/66 on the question of Tokelau. Under the terms of that resolution, the General Assembly noted that Tokelau remained firmly committed to the development of self-government and to an act of self-determination, and commended the Territory for current initiatives and endeavours based on wide consultation with its people to continue the process of strengthening the basis of national self-government. That resolution also welcomed the assurances of the Government of New Zealand that it would abide by the wishes of the people of Tokelau with regard to their future status.

At the committee's next meeting, representatives from Tokelau will give their views on the subject.

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