14 Feb 2006

Self-determination question put to vote on Atafu in Tokelau

9:35 am on 14 February 2006

Officials arrived at first light on Atafu atoll on Tokelau for the next stage of voting on a referendum to decide the New Zealand colony's future political status.

Sara Vui-Talitu reports that after a 28-hour boat ride from Apia where special votes were cast at the weekend, Atafu was a welcome sight.

"Officials from Tokelau's public service, the New Zealand government, the UN and overseas media have arrived to a warm welcome at the atoll just after seven am local time. Electoral officials say 200 people have registered to vote on Atafu. The weather is fine and sunny for voters to come and exercise their right to vote."

There are some people on Atafu who have been extremely vocal in their resistance to any change to the status quo. However, whether that's enough to sway a vote in their favour won't be known until all the votes are counted on Thursday. Officials from the United Nations are closely monitoring voting, the next lot of voting is on Nukunonu atoll tomorrow. In Atafu for Radio New Zealand International, I'm Sara Vui-Talitu.