22 Oct 2007

Tokelau referendum under way with UN supervising

2:33 pm on 22 October 2007

Tokelau's referendum on self-government in free association with New Zealand is currently being supervised by a group of observers from the United Nations.

The team from the UN includes Papua New Guinea's Ambassador to the UN, Robert Aisi, who is representing the Special Committee on Decolonisation.

Mr Aisi believes it is important to recall that a number of those countries that make up the UN were themselves former colonies.

He argues that just because the 16 left on the list are small territories doesn't diminish their right to greater self determination:

"We have many small nations who are listed. The same principles of self determination apply. Giving the people the free choice to determine their future still stands up. I think whether it is a big country, like countries in Africa, or other parts of the Pacific Tokelauans have a right to determine what their future is."

The result of the referendum is expected on Thursday.