The French high commissioner in Noumea, Yves Dassonville, says France is keen to avoid a referendum outcome in New Caledonia that would quash any chance for the territory ever becoming independent.
A vote on the territory's future status is to be held under the 1998 Noumea Accord, with a referendum possible as early as 2014.
It is widely believed that a majority is against severing ties with Paris.
Mr Dassonville says going ahead with a vote that eliminates any possible move to full self-determination is full of risks.
"We know that a no to independence would create frustrations and probably civil disorder, so we want to avoid that."
The French high commissioner in New Caledonia, Yves Dassonville