20 Feb 2006

New Tokelau head says he supported change

8:10 pm on 20 February 2006

The new ulu or head of Tokelau says he had tried unsuccessfully to lobby for a vote for change during last weeks referendum on the future of the atolls.

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

Kolouei O'Brien says locals didn't seem to appreciate the opportunity they had been given.

"I tryed very hard to convince the people to believe in what they had been given. New Zealand had given us a very helpful remedy to our problem, especially in the future. But I think the fear of the unknown is a very common thing for people to be afraid of."

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