The Ulu o Tokelau, Aliki Faipule Salesio Lui, says despite the special relationship with New Zealand the atolls still face many challenges, especially climate change.
He says as a colony it is shut out of many of the agencies that could help.
The Ulu's comments came during a United Nations Decolonisation Seminar in Ecuador last week.
Don Wiseman has more;
"The Ulu told the meeting the country appreciates New Zealand's assistance but he says as a New Zealand colony Tokelau is not eligible for UN funds through its Small Island Developing States programmes. He says while the impacts of climate change, coastal erosion and ocean acidification are already plain in Tokelau, it has no opportunity to participate in the international discussion on these issues. The Ulu says it is not able to join bodies like the Alliance of Small Island States but he says if Tokelau is not a small island developing state then who is? He also says it cannot access money from the Global Environment Fund meant for adaptation and mitigation of the impacts of climate change. The Ulu later this month will put Tokelau's case to the UN's Special Committee on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, in New York."