19 Mar 2012

Tokelau leader says his people value free entry to New Zealand

8:27 am on 19 March 2012

The leader of Tokelau doesn't believe his people would be willing to give up their right to free entry into New Zealand, even though it's a major cause of the country's shrinking population.

The Cook Islands' finance minister Mark Brown said last week the ease with which Cook Islanders can emigrate to New Zealand had resulted in depopulation

and he would like to see a debate on it.

Niue and Tokelau are also part of the New Zealand realm and their citizens travel on New Zealand passports.

But the Ulu of Tokelau Keli Kalolo says Tokelauns value the relationship they have with New Zealand and says it's hard to imagine a day when they couldn't enter the country freely.

"When people decide to move to New Zealand it's done for the future of their children, the education of their children. For many I think it would be very difficult for them to contemplate because they've been doing this for years and besides there's so many Tokelauans living in New Zealand."