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Tokelau, NZ agree on steps to self-determination

Tokelau, NZ agree on steps toward self-determination

Agreement on Tokelau’s further political evolution, and the process to be followed, was reached during a meeting with the territory's Council for Ongoing Government this afternoon, says Foreign Minister Phil Goff.

“The Council believes the time is ripe for Tokelau to consider an act of self-determination based on self-government in free association with New Zealand, and the New Zealand government fully agrees with that,” Mr Goff said.

"New Zealand's approach has always been to encourage and support our overseas territories to become as self-reliant as they felt able to be.

“The key elements to be included in a Treaty of Free Association were agreed during the meeting. The next step will be to produce a draft treaty text and annexes for further consideration in both Tokelau and Wellington. Once the text is agreed, an act of self-determination will be held under United Nations supervision.

"Self-determination will not involve significant change in any practical sense, as Tokelau already runs itself in most respects. It has its own legislative body, executive council, and judicial system; runs its own budget, and manages all its public services.

"Tokelauans will still be entitled to New Zealand citizenship and will continue to receive our economic and technical support.

“It means New Zealand and Tokelau will have a more equal partnership. For Tokelau, it is essentially a recognition and formalisation of the status quo. It will, however, open the way for Tokelau to receive greater assistance from regional partners and the international community," Mr Goff said.

Today's meeting also saw the signing of a Deed establishing an International Trust Fund for Tokelau. The fund, which already has pledged contributions totalling $NZ7.5 million, is designed to provide Tokelau with an independent source of revenue, and will be allowed to build up for the first five years at least.

"The fund will be managed by a board jointly appointed by Tokelau and New Zealand. The idea sits well with Tokelau's move towards greater political self-reliance, and hopefully overseas donors will make contributions to the fund as Tokelau moves within sight of self-determination," Mr Goff said.

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