2007 Tokelauan self-determination referendum

A referendum on self-determination was held in Tokelau on 20 October and on 22–24 October 2007,[1][2][3] with the result being that self-governance was rejected. Had it been successful, the referendum would have changed Tokelau's status from an unincorporated New Zealand territory to a self-governing state in free association with New Zealand, akin to the Cook Islands and Niue. However, the referendum required a two-thirds positive vote to pass, and the "yes" side fell short of the required total by 16 votes.[4]

The referendum was open to Tokelauans aged 18 or older, with 789 people eligible to vote.[5] A majority of two-thirds of voters was necessary for the referendum to be accepted.[6]

After the narrow failure of the first such referendum in 2006, it was decided that another referendum would be held late the following year.[7] Tokelau's leaders believe that concerns among Tokelauan expatriates were a factor in the failure of the 2006 referendum, even though they were not eligible to vote, and assured them that they would not lose their rights to return to Tokelau if the 2007 referendum had passed.[8] There were 23% more people eligible to vote in the 2007 referendum than in the previous year's.[6]

The schedule was:[1][2]

Had the proposal succeeded, a date would have been set, most likely in mid-2008, for the "day of self government".[6] However, the proposal failed again by an even smaller margin – 16 more "yes" votes would have been needed to approve it.[9] It is possible that the issue will be voted on again in the future;[4] the leader of the largest group of overseas Tokelauans (the Tokelauan community in the Hutt Valley in New Zealand) Henry Joseph called for another vote within two years, with the required approval being changed to a simple majority.[10]


Tokelauan self-determination referendum, 2007
Choice Votes %
  Against 246 35.55
For 446 64.45
Required majority 66.67
Total votes 692 100%
Registered voters and turnout 789 87.71


  1. ^ a b Bulletin of the Tokelau Government, 19 October 2007
  2. ^ a b "Decolonization United Nations success story, but task not yet complete, Fourth Committee told as debate begins" (Press release). United Nations. 2 October 2006. Retrieved 14 March 2007.
  3. ^ "Atoll colony to vote on NZ rule". Herald Sun. 22 October 2007. Retrieved 30 October 2007.
  4. ^ a b Angela Gregory (25 October 2007). "Tokelau votes to remain dependent territory of New Zealand". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 17 November 2020.
  5. ^ "Tokelau narrowly rejects self-government option in UN-supervised ballot". UN News. 25 October 2007. Retrieved 17 November 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d United Nations press release (23 October 2007). "Voting Under Way in Tokelau Self-Govt Ballot". Scoop. Retrieved 23 October 2007.
  7. ^ "Tokelau plans another referendum on self-determination". RNZ. 5 June 2006. Retrieved 17 November 2020.
  8. ^ "Tokelau leaders confident of stronger backing for next referendum on self determination". RNZ. 13 March 2007. Retrieved 17 November 2020.
  9. ^ Selwyn Manning (25 October 2007). "Tokelau One Percent Short of Self-Government". Scoop. Retrieved 17 November 2020.
  10. ^ Radio Australia – News – Tokelau leader seeks third self-determination vote

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