21 Feb 2006

Foreign Minister says New Zealand fulfilling UN obligations by assisting Tokelau vote

9:11 pm on 21 February 2006

The New Zealand foreign minister has rejected claims that Tokelau was pushed into holding a self determination referendum last week.

Tokelau's three atolls came within 38 votes of supporting the plan for limited independence in free association with New Zealand.

The Opposition National Party's associate foreign affairs spokesman, John Hayes, said last week that maintaining the status quo was a victory for commonsense in a process driven by the New Zealand Government.

But Foreign Minister Winston Peters says Mr Hayes, as a former diplomat, should know better than to make such patently ignorant comments.

He says New Zealand was obligated by the UN Charter to help Tokelau attain a full measure of self government.

"It is not a matter of discretion. It is our obligation to have conducted this following the Fono's decision in the Tokelau islands to have such a decision. The second thing is, is he actually denying that the Tokelauans briefed the National Party on that and had the National Party support for it, for that is my information."