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Tokelau representatives in NZ for talks on future

Tokelau representatives in NZ for talks on future

Tokelau’s six-member Council for Ongoing Government arrives in Wellington today ahead of discussions on the atoll group’s future political status and relationship with New Zealand, Foreign Minister Phil Goff said today.

Tokelau is the last and smallest of New Zealand’s dependent territories. Last November, its General Fono (national parliament) unanimously decided to explore a move to self-government in free association with New Zealand – the same status held by Niue and the Cook Islands.

"Tokelau is already running itself in most respects, and New Zealand’s role has progressively become one of support. A move to self-government would be more a formal affirmation of the current situation than a major change," Mr Goff said.

“Tokelau has its own legislative body, executive council, and judicial system; it runs its own budget; it has a distinctive system of government, with authority based upon traditional village structures, and manages all its public services, including shipping and telecommunications.

"New Zealand has always accepted a responsibility to help and encourage its dependent territories to run themselves to the greatest possible extent. Equally, we have always insisted that it is for the people of the territory to determine both the pace and the direction of political evolution.

“For some decades now Tokelau has been experimenting with different governance and public service systems. It is encouraging that it now has the confidence and capability to contemplate an act of self-determination.

“We will work closely with Tokelau over the coming weeks to establish what kind of relationship will best suit their future needs and enable them to remain a viable community for the 1500 Tokelauans living on the atolls, and a homeland for the 6000 or so Tokelauans living in New Zealand,” Mr Goff said.

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