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Tokelau referendum does not support change


Tokelau referendum does not produce a two thirds majority in favour of a change of status


Prime Minister Helen Clark said tonight that New Zealand will fully respect the wishes of the people of Tokelau, as expressed in the referendum on whether Tokelauans should become independent in free association with New Zealand.

The referendum has not produced a two thirds majority in favour of a change in status.

"We have always taken the view that it is for the people of the territory to determine both the direction and the pace of their political development," Helen Clark said.

"Considerable progress towards greater political self reliance has been made in recent years as Tokelau has strengthened its political and public service institutions and structures. But although Tokelau’s political leadership believed it was time to move to a new, more equal relationship with New Zealand, the people of Tokelau have not wanted to change the current relationship.”

"Tokelau is already in practice exercising virtually all the responsibilities of a self governing country. The delegation of all New Zealand’s administrative powers to Tokelau will remain in place.

"Tokelau can be assured of New Zealand’s continuing friendship and support. We will continue our joint efforts to strengthen and improve the standard of services in Tokelau. Already a power project is nearing completion in all three villages. Consideration is being given to ways of ensuring a more regular and reliable shipping service in the future.

“New Zealand would of course have been entirely comfortable had the outcome of the referendum been a decision for Tokelau to become self governing. The choice, however, is a choice for the people of Tokelau to make, and they have spoken.

At some point in the future they might well wish to explore other options again. Until then, New Zealand will continue to do its best to provide Tokelau with the support and assistance it needs to continue running itself, as it has, in practice, shown it can do,” Helen Clark said.

NOTE: Almost sixty percent of Tokelau's voting population supported a change of status. Overall 584 votes were cast in this week's act of self-determination conducted on the 3 atolls of Tokelau. 3 of these votes were deemed invalid, 349 were in favour of self-government and 232 were against.

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