John Hayes MP
National Party Associate Spokesman for Foreign Affairs & Trade (Pacific Affairs)
26 October 2007
Congratulations Tokelau: Now let's have some common sense, Prime Minister
Tokelauans in New Zealand and in Tokelau did the right thing to resist pressure from Mfat and the United Nations to pursue self-government - because the proposition defies common sense, says National Party Associate Foreign Affairs spokesman John Hayes.
"The community of 1,100 people in the Pacific has no prospect of meeting the costs of self-government. More surreal was the proposal to appoint Members of Parliament in a ratio that equates to having 66,000 parliamentarians in New Zealand.
"The scheme was the brainchild of Mfat's lawyers and was designed to remove New Zealand from attention by the UN's Decolonisation Committee.
"This committee includes countries such as Cuba and Syria and other ideologically driven countries which have no understanding of the importance of protecting and preserving Tokelauan language and culture developed on the three atolls over 3,000 years.
"Mfat used significant New Zealand taxpayer funds in an effort to induce the Tokelauan people towards self-government. Aid funds for Tokelau were doubled from 2004, and a further $16 million was used to establish a trust fund.
"The idea was to turn all Tokelauans into public servants. The result has been a serious depopulation, with numbers dropping from1,500 to 1,100 - a mirror of the same failed experiments in Niue and the Cook Islands.
"The time has come for Helen Clark to invite the UN Decolonisation Committee to develop some common sense and pursue its interests elsewhere. The British do this in the case of Pitcairn Island where the issues are similar.
"Comments by Mfat's 'Tokelau Administrator' that 'Tokelau would have opened itself up to international aid, rather than just New Zealand money', are clear evidence of the underlying game of using more money to lure Tokelau onto the path that has failed Niue and the Cooks.
"The time has come to appoint a Tokelauan to the position and for Mfat to stop spending aid in South America and allocate more to meet our real obligations in the Pacific," says Mr Hayes.