A former French prime minister Manuel Valls says the French government should say before New Caledonia's referendum what its preferred outcome is.
Mr Valls, who is in Noumea as the head of a French National Assembly delegation, was speaking at a public debate.
He said he personally wants New Caledonia to stay French and expressed regret that there wouldn't be a third accord to follow the Matignon Accords and the Noumea Accord.
Mr Valls said, in view of Britain's exit from the European Union, France would be the only European power left in the Pacific, adding that its presence was wanted by Australia and New Zealand.
He has also advised caution about the concept of a Caledonian people, saying there is a Kanak people and a French people as well as a Caledonian citizenship.
Les Nouvelles Caledoniennes reported another Assembly member Cristian Jacob saying it was not possible to get independence and maintain funding from France.
Once independent, he said, New Caledonia could enter into co-operation treaties but that won't match the current French commitment.