23 Mar 2004

Talks between Tokelau and New Zealand officials to be held shortly

3:45 pm on 23 March 2004

Talks are to be held shortly between officials from Tokelau and New Zealand over the principles of partnership agreement signed late last year.

Falani Aukuso, the general manager of the Tokelau Affairs office, says the talks in Wellington early next month will flesh out the details of the agreement, now that the fono has opted to consider free association with New Zealand.

Tokelau, which has 1,500 people living on three atolls, is on the UN list for decolonisation and has three choices for its future.

These are either full independence, full re-integration or free association.

Mr Aukuso says they are still considering what free association will mean for the country.

"Tokelau retains the freedom and the right to look at another option if it is unhappy with the details or the terms of conditions that may emerge as a result of the discussions between the leadership of the two - of New Zealand and of Tokelau."

Falani Aukuso, the general manager of the Tokelau Affairs office.