25 Oct 2007

Tokelau turns downs self government for the second time

8:12 pm on 25 October 2007

Tokelau has chosen by a narrow margin to remain a New Zealand colony.

This week, the three atolls have been voting to determine whether to become self-governing in free association with New Zealand.

Almost all of the registered 789 voters had their say but the two-thirds majority needed to effect the change was not reached.

Philippa Tolley was there on the atoll of Atafu as the announcement was made.

"This is the second time the people of Tokelau have decided the time is not right for self-government in free association with NZ. A two thirds majority was needed. But the final results gave a yes vote of 64.4 per cent, just over a percentage point off what was needed. Last time round figures reached 60 per cent. The Ulu, or leader, of Tokelau had confidently predicted a positive response to the referendum and looked severely disappointed as he announced the result. The NZ administrator of Tokelau, David Payton says the result indicated the people of Tokelau needed more time to work with each other to find an agreed way forward for the nation."