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Tokelau Votes To Retain Status Quo

Tokelau Votes To Retain Status Quo

The Administrator of Tokelau Neil Walter has reported that this week's referendum on Tokelau's political future did not produce the requisite two-thirds majority vote in favour of self-government in free association with New Zealand.

A change in Tokelau's status will not take place in the immediate future.

Some 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 three atolls of Tokelau. Three of these votes were deemed invalid, 349 were in favour of self-government and 232 were against. Tokelau had earlier decided that a two-thirds majority of valid votes cast was required to trigger a change of status.

The referendum was conducted under United Nations scrutiny from 11 to 15 February. The participation rate was very close to one hundred percent, with just a dozen or so registered overseas voters failing to record a vote.

The UN monitoring team has confirmed its satisfaction with the way the referendum was conducted.

Mr Walter said that this act of self-determination was always going to be something of a challenge to Tokelau, particularly given that the bar had been set at a two-thirds majority. He noted that the people of Tokelau have traditionally taken a very cautious approach to change.

He said perhaps the important thing was that the people of Tokelau had had a chance, formally and under UN supervision, to determine whether or not to take on formal authority and responsibility for governing themselves.

‘’That in itself is an achievement of which Tokelau, New Zealand and the United Nations alike can be proud,’' he said.

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