17 Apr 2015

Support for Norfolk denial of rights claim

11:57 am on 17 April 2015

A New Zealand academic says the people of Norfolk Island have a case in saying Australia's changes to the island's status do not recognise their democratic rights.

Canberra is about to pass legislation that will end years of autonomy for Norfolk, but large numbers on the island say they have not had a say.

The director of Massey University's Pasifika Centre, Malakai Koloamatangi, says it is a legitimate argument.

"It has had its own cultural history, traditional practices and so on, so the best approach when dealing with a separate entity or separate people, as it were, is to go about it in a transparent and consultative way. It sounds like the Australian government hasn't done that in this case."

Professor Malakai Koloamatangi.

He says if the people of Norfolk Island were to approach the United Nations, as has been mooted, they will most likely be directed to sort it out directly with Australia.

The island's government is currently preparing a referendum, asking the people if they believe they should have a right to determine their own political future.

Norfolk Island

Norfolk Island Photo: AFP