17 Oct 2005

Tokelau leader defends restricting referendum to islanders

4:24 pm on 17 October 2005

The Head of Government for Tokelau, Aliki Faipule Pio Tuia, says it is only fair that the vote on self-determination for the atolls involves just the people living there.

Tokelau is shortly to hold a referendum on whether the atolls should seek limited independence in free association with New Zealand.

Some Tokelauans resident in New Zealand have complained about being left out of the vote, saying they share closely in the life of Tokelau and are entitled to take part.

But the Ulu o Tokelau, Pio Tuia, says this would not be fair.

"They will never reside in their lifetimes, contributing to the development of Tokelau, in the islands. I think we need to look at this issue with a broader perspective and I think the question to answer about being part and not being part is whether you decide to live in New Zealand or you decide to live in Tokelau."

The Ulu o Tokelau, Pio Tuia, who is meeting with community groups in New Zealand and Australia to explain his government's position.