24 Mar 2004

Tokelau's local councils to be given more powers

10:19 am on 24 March 2004

The local councils of elders in Tokelau are to be given further powers by the fono, its national assembly.

The general manager of the Tokelau Affairs office, Falani Aukuso, says the powers of the local councils were thought about following the decision by the Fono to consider the option of free association with New Zealand.

He says the local councils of elders on the three atolls will have greater control over their own affairs by mid-year.

"Some of the powers, instead of being delegated to the national institution of the general fono, but to the council of elders because it brings it right home, if you like, to the true reef of Tokelau. And, then the local council of elders will re-delegate to the national institutions only when and where required."

Tokelau remains on the UN list for decolonisation and was given three options for its future which included full independence, full re-integration or free association.

Mr Aukuso says it is considering free association with New Zealand and what that will mean for the country which has 1,500 people living on three atolls.