5 Oct 2007

Tokelau leader claims there is resistance to fresh referendum

6:20 pm on 5 October 2007

A Tokelau community leader in New Zealand says many expatriate Tokelauans are opposed to the second vote on self determination to be held later this month.

Ioane Teao says political leaders seem motivated by the prospects of the money the territory may receive from aid donors if it becomes independent in free association with New Zealand.

He says many Tokelauans are unhappy that the result of the previous referendum in February last year, in which the people decided it should remain a New Zealand colony, was unilaterally dismissed.

"This is no good for democracy in Tokelau. The people have spoken. They didn't get the 66 percent that was needed for a mandate and yet they overturned that decision and started a month later to have another referendum."

Ioane Teao says there are also concerns within the community that around 30 percent of eligible voters did not participate in the first referendum.

He says there's a prediction that the level of non-participation could be even higher this time.