21 Jan 2008

Tokelau's new ulu seeks fresh talks with New Zealand

4:06 pm on 21 January 2008

Tokelau's incoming head of government for 2008 says the priority for this year is to meet New Zealand government officials.

Elections were held over the weekend to choose the faipule or leader and village mayor for each of Tokelau's three atolls, and members of Tokelau's General Fono.

Pio Tuia was elected as the local leader of Nukunonu atoll, and will be sworn in next month as the ulu or head of government for this year.

He says New Zealand's relationship is key and Tokelau leaders are well aware the New Zealand government could change this year.

"I think we need to revisit our relationship with New Zealand as we're still looking at New Zealand to be the administration for Tokelau so our relationship is very important and very crucial at the moment because I think New Zealand's is going to have a new election this year. So we're planning to have a meeting with the New Zealand government maybe in early February this year."

Pio Tuia says talks will centre on NZAID, infrastructure support and ongoing negotiations for a new boat to service the atolls.

In two referendums in the past two years, Tokelauans voted to retain the current relationship with New Zealand.