17 Feb 2006

New Zealand territory of Tokelau votes against independence

8:50 am on 17 February 2006

The tiny territory of Tokelau has decided against becoming an independent state in free association with NZ.

In this week's referendum, 349 people voted for independence in free association with New Zealand.

232 people voted against and three votes were invalid, bringing the total to 584 votes, and leaving the vote for change six per cent short of the two-thirds majority threshold.

In Tokelau, Sara Vui-Talitu asked local people for their response.

"After four days of voting, there was a mixed reaction immediately after the announcement of the vote last night...."

[man] 'I just feel that people are not ready yet. There are things to be sorted out, that people need to put in place and we take that chance.'

[man] 'I'm feeling really good, I mean we've done our best and...'

[man] '...but to me I feel sorry for Tokelau. I think it's not quite enough, and information for the people.'

[woman] 'oh I feel happy about the outcome, because I really truly believe we're not ready yet.'

...whether Tokelau will decide to explore this path again in the future remains to be seen.

In Fakaofo for Radio New Zealand InternationaI, I'm Sara Vui-Talitu.