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Tokelau referendum votes for status quo

25 October 2007
Media Statement

Tokelau referendum votes for status quo

New Zealand respects the wishes of the people of Tokelau who have voted this week to remain a dependent territory of New Zealand in their just completed referendum, Prime Minister Helen Clark said tonight.

The referendum did not produce the two thirds majority required for this small atoll nation to change from its status of dependent territory to being self-governing in free association with New Zealand.

“New Zealand governments have long taken the view that it is for the people of Tokelau to decide both the direction and the pace of their political development,’’ Helen Clark said.

“Now the voters of Tokelau have signalled again, albeit narrowly, that they do not want such a change at this time.

“Tokelau is already in practice exercising most of 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 the New Zealand Government’s ongoing friendship and support. We will continue our joint efforts with Tokelau to strengthen and improve the public services in Tokelau. Major work on upgrading essential infrastructure is well underway, and Tokelau continues to make progress in ensuring that each atoll is able to operate as a vibrant, forward looking community.”

Helen Clark said that at some time in the future Tokelau may wish to vote on its constitutional status again.

“For now, those in Tokelau, and in the wider family of Tokelau outside the atolls, will want to reflect on this latest decision.

“In doing so it is important that all concerned with the future of Tokelau and its people know that Tokelau will retain the full support of New Zealand,’’ Helen Clark said.

ENDS

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