13 Feb 2006

100 percent turn-out in first stage of voting in Tokelau

11:13 am on 13 February 2006

There has been a one hundred per cent turn out in the first stage of voting on whether Tokelau should seek limited independence in free association with New Zealand.

More than 600 Tokelauns have registered to vote in the referendum.

A total of 90 voters, mostly public servants, students and medical patients temporarily away from Tokelau, cast their ballot in Apia in Samoa over the weekend.

New Zealand's administrator to Tokelau Neil Walter says the full turn out in Apia was very pleasing:

"It's as good a hope as certainly you could hope for. It shows a very high level of interest and take-up on the opportunity to vote in this important decision for Tokelau. And, my understanding is that the United Nations team, which is monitoring the preparations for the referendum, are very satisfied with the way the information has been put out to the voters, with the way the referendum is being conducted."

Further voting will take place in Tokelau itself during the week.

A result is expected on Thursday evening