13 Mar 2007

Tokelau eyeing Swains Islands if November referendum on self-government successful

8:10 pm on 13 March 2007

If the three atolls of Tokelau are successful in winning self-determination in free association with New Zealand later this year, one of the first moves will be to talk to the United States about returning Swains Island, which is presently part of American Samoa.

Tokelau is to hold a second vote in November after a referendum in February last year narrowly failed to get the necessary support.

The council for the ongoing government says is it confident there is now increased support for the change.

One of the three Faipule of Tokelau, Kolouei O'Brien, says a change in status will allow them to pursue issues that are dear to Tokelauans such as the ownership of Swains island.

"Swains [was] part of Tokelau according to our people. Right up to 1960, or 50s and 60s, our people, Tokelau people lived on Swains but when America signed an agreement with New Zealand, Swains was taken off the Tokelau list, not be part of Tokelau."

Kolouei O'Brien