20 Feb 2006

Tokelau's new ulu or head believes voters swayed by overseas based Tokelauans

4:16 pm on 20 February 2006

The new ulu or head of Tokelau says overseas-based Tokelauans seem to have inspired fear among locals when it come to last weeks referendum.

Tokelau rejected moves towards decolonisation and remains a New Zealand colony after narrowly missing a three-thirds majority for change.

Kolouei O'Brien says there was a definite fear of change in Tokelau which had earlier not existed.

"Some people from outside, children of Tokelau, has caused some uneasiness among the community here. At the beginning when we first started this programme, all the aumaga, the women, the youth, they all supported the idea. But when all these type of people arrived less than a month ago, they spread the bad news and made them afraid of what's going on."

Mr O'Brien says he tried to tell people that New Zealand had offered them a great opportunity.

He says depite the result he still feels optimistic about the future of Tokelau.