The New Zealand government department that administers Tokelau, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, says it has yet to discuss with the territory its plan to declare its waters a whale sanctuary.
Tokelau announced its intentions to declare its waters a sanctuary at a meeting of the South Pacific Whale Research Consortium in Auckland yesterday.
MFAT says it has yet to discuss the whale sanctuary proposal with Tokelau's legislative council.
An Associate Professor in international law at Victoria University, Alberto Costi, says Tokelau may not need New Zealand's permission to declare the sanctuary.
"The Legislative Council of Tokelau passes legislation on local matters, for instance on maritime zone concerning fisheries around the waters of Tokelau."
However, Alberto Costi says New Zealand would be needed to enforce the proposal.