The Ulu o Tokelau, Kolouei O'Brien, says the Council for the Ongoing Government will be stressing that a referendum on self-government in November next year is not independence from New Zealand.
In a referendum last February, Tokelauans narrowly voted against moving from colony to self government status.
A General Fono in August agreed to hold another vote and New Zealand's Foreign Minister Winston Peters has today announced it will be held in November next year.
The atolls already manage most of their activities and the Ulu says they will be endeavouring to ensure the people understand that self government only means formalising the status quo, and not becoming independent.
"They really think that we are going to be independent, that we are going to cut from New Zealand and that sort of thing. They don't really realise that the vote is suppose to mean what we are at the moment, [that] we carry on as is."