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Lifting our game
Tonga-New Zealand 1950
Sione comes to New Zealand - A Samoan migrants story
NZ Economic Transformation Report

 

National seeks wider Pacific policy making inquiry

The "no" vote in Tokelau has led John Hayes MP, the NZ National Party associate foreign affairs spokesperson, to call for a wide ranging inquiry into an "incorrect policy path" by Parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee.

Can National get the numbers to "inquire"?
John Hayes said he will be asking for an inquiry into Tokelau policy and "our wider Pacific policy-making".

Phil Goff, current Pacific Affairs and former Foreign minister said to a NZ Institute of International Affairs symposium on 22 February he was satisfied with New Zealand's Tokelau and other Pacific policies - and said it was over to Parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defence committee to decide whether to make the inquiry sought by John Hayes.

Diane Yates, Labour MP, chair of the NZ Parliamentary committee told DecisionMaker later on 22 February she had suggested members consider over the March recess what inquiries interested them and that a majority decide what the select committee would do. Members of the public were also welcome to suggest topics of inquiry for the committee.

Labour and National each have four members on the Foreign Affairs and Select Committee - if members vote along party lines and the Green member, Keith Locke sides with National, the Hayes inquiry could proceed.

Tokelau "incorrect policy"
Interviewer Sean Dorney on Radio Australia had asked John Hayes what he thought the New Zealand government should do following 40% of Tokelau's electorate voting against decolonisation, thus preventing the necessary two thirds majority to "go it alone".

John Hayes said NZ should completely back off now. It should "investigate how it got into this incorrect policy path". Hayes' rationale for the "wide ranging inquiry" was "so we stop making the mistakes we've made for Niue".

If New Zealand can't get the game right in the Pacific, where can we? he said following the Tokelau rejection, extending comments he made in his maiden speech to Parliament in 2005.

Hayes and Murray McCully MP, National Party Foreign Affairs & Trade spokesman, both spoke about questions flowing from the Tokelau referendum at the 21 February 2006 NZIIA Wellington symposium on New Zealand Foreign policy "The nest five years".

Following Foreign Minister Winston Peters MP, Murray McCully said the challenges we confront in the Pacific were highlighted somewhat by the interesting referendum result in Tokelau in early February.

Bi-partisan foreign policy?
New Zealand First leader and minister outside cabinet Winston Peters had told the seminar "historically, the broad direction of foreign policy has receved bi-partisan support. In our recent past almost all foreign affairs legislation presented to parliament has received near unamimous support."

It was after foreign minister Peters had left the seminar that the National opposition spokesmen made comments that showed cracks in the bi-partisan approach - despite McCully's comment that he liked a bi-partisan foreign policy.

Murray McCully recalled "Asked how a vote in favour of independence from New Zealand would have changed the future prospects of the Tokelaus, a Radio New Zealand commentator had asserted that independence would have benefited the Tokelaus by giving them access to a wider base of potential donors".

McCully said "This, to me, seems to sum up rather well the rather directionless strategy that guides New Zealand’s relationships with too many of the Pacific nations".

"The most significant initiative that has been taken in recent times by this country in relation to the small Pacific states is to create specific immigration quotas for their citizens to gain residence in New Zealand under the Pacific Access category" said McCully to the seminar organised by the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs.

Denuding small Pacific states
McCully said "Quite how a programme of denuding small Pacific states of their able-bodied, working-age population is deemed to be part of a strategy to achieve economic sustainability on their parts, is something I struggle to understand".

"As a new spokesman in this area I feel no embarrassment about saying that I have no comprehensive solutions to that quite complex problem."

"My purpose in raising it today is to signal that this is an area of some interest to my colleagues and I, and that we will be having a careful look at how New Zealand might, both through its own policies and in the context of the Pacific Plan, play a more constructive role amongst the Pacific states, focused particularly on the need to create sustainable economies."

Tokelau choses to stay with NZ
The 2006 vote on the political future of Tokelau, New Zealand's last colony, rejected change. Although a simple majority of Tokelauans on Tokelau favoured change, the necessary two thirds majority was not achieved in the 11 - 15 February 2006 referendum under United Nation supervision.

The process revealed divisions of opinion amongst Tokealuans and amongst New Zealanders.

Falani Aukuso, Head of the Tokelauan public service was dissappointed in the result but said the independence option would remain on the table.

Helen Clark, New Zealand's Prime Minister, said time should be given for the dust to settle but Tokelau would continue meantime effectively with a form of local government in its relationship with New Zealand. Tokelau has evolved a measure of self determination encouraged by successive New Zealand government and Tokelauan actions.

Pre-referendenum initiatives, such as the development of the Tokelauan Trust Fund supported both by New Zealand and other countries such as Australia, China, France and Britain would continue to provide Tokealu with a future income stream.

When the dust settled, she said, the future role of the New Zealand Administrator - in colonial administration terms "the Governor" - would be considered.

She did not consider the 7000 Tokaluans in New Zealand should have been voters in the referendum. John Hayes had called for New Zealand Tokelauans to be able to join the vote, a position rejected by the leadership of Tokelau in Tokelau.

A New Zealand based Tokelauan in New Zealand told New Zealand National Radio once the status quo result of the referendum was known that perhaps Tokaluans did not yet adequately understand democracy.

The week before registrations stood at between 640 and 650, thought to be around 70 to 80 per cent of eligible voters reported Radio Australia on 3 February 2006. At least two Tokelau islands attracted 100% voter participation in the referendum poll.

The Tokelauans themselves decided to set the bar for a decision to change status formally at a two thirds majority of those voting.

”It's an open question as to how the people of Tokelau will actually vote” Neil Walter, Administrator of Tokelau, said on the eve of the referendum.

The Polynesian atolls were made a British protectorate in 1889, and were transferred to New Zealand administration in 1925. There are now an estimated 1,400 on the islands, with a large Tokelauan community in New Zealand. Before British rule, Peruvian's had taken able bodied Tokelauan men off the Islands, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark recalled in commenting on the 2006 referendum result.

The package in front of Tokelauan voters had comprised a constitution that is very much a Tokelaun constitution, done by Tokelau with the advice of a constitutional law expert Neil Walter had said.

New Zealand guarantees
He told Radio Australia’s interviewer Myra Mortensen that a draft treaty between Tokelau and New Zealand would guarantee New Zealand citizenship, ongoing economic support, access to specialists advice and assistance as and when needed by Tokelau.

In practice very little change is involved but they did get a binding assurance under international law through the treaty of New Zealand's support in the future the NZ Administrator had said. The Treaty also returned to Tokelau the sovereignty they lost 140 years earlier.

The position as Administrator would have vanished – “that's the only significant change” with a vote for self-government. “I am very much hopeful of becoming New Zealand's last colonial governor” he had said.

At that point New Zealand would have reorganised the support structure it has for Tokelau and provided its assistance as one country to another, rather than as administering power to dependent territory.

Tokelauans run Tokelau
So, in a sense there's no significant change from the current situation, which is that by delegation of my powers to the village councils and the general Fono in Tokelau, they actually make all the calls themselves, they run Tokelau, take all the important decisions and New Zealand progressively over the last few years has been moving to a support role he had said.

Mortensen said Tokelau is made up of three very distant atolls, distant from each other, and asked “Is it feasible to have a united sort of front?”

Tokelauans have traditionally worked together very well when issues arise at a national level that can't be dealt with by each village said Walter.

”They have a very strong village focus and village structure, but the three village councils collectively and their elected National Assembly do take decisions at a national level, for example on external relations, on shipping issues, on fisheries resource questions, that can't be taken by each village independently. So, they've had a lot of practice at working together at the national level” he said.

Each of the three Faipule, or village heads, takes in turn the annual rotation of the position of Ulu, or head of government. The capital of Tokelau rotates at the same time around the three atolls.

”So, they've got very democratic balanced way of approaching that issue” Neil Walter said.

Reporting to UN
Tokelau has been on the list of non-self governing territories at the United Nations since 1948 and New Zealand and Tokelau traditionally have worked pretty closely with the United Nations, certainly keeping them fully informed as Tokelau has moved to take on greater responsibility for its own affairs.

We report each year with Tokelau to the Special Committee on Decolonisation and the Special Committee, as well as the Electoral Assistance Department of the United Nations, were present at the referendum he said.

Tokelau financially optimistic despite MP Hayes stand

The decision not to include expatriate Tokelauans in the actual referendum on self determination was taken by Tokelau's national assembly after full debate and discussion Tokelau's then Head of Government, Faipule Pio Tuia said in November 2005.

John Hayes, had said in his maiden speech to Parliament “It is outrageous that the ten thousand Tokelauans living in New Zealand are to be excluded from this vote”.

John Hayes
, a former senior official of New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) criticised this and other aspects of the Labour led government’s and UN Pacific policies.

The Ulu disagreed with John Hayes, and met with National Party leader Don Brash and foreign affairs spokesperson Murray McCully to clarify if Hayes spoke official National Party poli

MP's stand against unrealistic UN expectations
Hayes had said in his November 2005 maiden speech in New Zealand's Parliament “I stand against the unrealistic expectations of the United Nations committee on decolonisation who expect a community of 1500 people subsisting on three atolls 270 miles from Samoa to have the cash to afford their own government”.

Decolonisation failure model must not be repeated
“The decolonisation model followed by Niue, damaged that society and was a failure. We must not repeat the same mistakes” said John Hayes, appointed as an associate spokesperson on foreign affairs and trade, for official development assistance and for Pacific affairs, by National Party leader Dr Don Brash.

Pio Tuia, the Ulu, said in a Radio Australia discussion with John Hayes "every human being on this earth wants to be a free man".

Can you afford it, asked interviewer Bruce Hill.

Trust fund to support Tokelau
"We have the treaty to guarantee the ongoing support from New Zealand. We have also established a trust fund to support ourselves, and that amount is coming up to NZ$ 25 million at the moment" Pio Tuia said on 29 November, 2005. "Also, we want to develop our economy of Tokelau: we are talking about fisheries, the nonu, the copra, the handicrafts and whatever."

Tokelau's choice
Pio Tuia had said "It is Tokelau's choice. The options have been given and been offered by the UN to us. In 1994 they came on a special mission for Tokelau after they decolonised the Cook Islands and Niue, and Tokelau is the last territory of New Zealand. So they keep on offering this to Tokelau, because the intention of of the Committee of 24 (the decolonisation committee) of the UN is to decolonise every nation.

"They gave us three options - independence, integration or free association. Independence is out of Tokelau's mind, we are not for that. And integration is not an option for Tokelau."

He said when you look at the issue of decolonisation, what does it mean? "It means we have to run away or get away from being a colony to a more free status."

Hayes' concern in the Radio Australia interview was that Tokelau simply does not have the resources to make a go of self-determination. He had developed his view as he worked on Niue's situation during his foreign ministry career.

Right to self determination

The Ulu said "Mr Hayes seems to be questioning Tokelau's right to self-determination."

"That flies in the face of a fundamental right given to us by the United Nations Charter and respected by successive New Zealand governments for more than half a century" the Ulu said.

"For over three decades now, with encouragement and support from both National and and Labour led governments, Tokelau has been developing its own governance and public service structures in an attempt to become as self-reliant as possible."

How Tokelau government works: the big picture
The Ulu said "already we have our own unique system of government based on the traditional authority of the Village councils, supplemented by a fully representative national assembly. We manage all our public services, including health, education and economic development. We manage our budget in its entirety. We have our own judicial system. We manage our own supping and telecommunication services. We play a full and active role in virtually every regional organisation and grouping" the Ulu said. In 2005 Tokelau was admitted in the Pacific Islands Forum as an observer in its own right. It is an ssociate members of UNESCO and the WHO, and the Ulu said Tokelau had unamimous regional backing for its bid to join the European Union's development programme.

Of course none of this would have been achieved without New Zealand's constant support and help the Ulu said. "The relationship with New Zealand is precious to us."

The final steps
Tokelau was ready to take the final steps to stage an act of self-determination, under United Nations supervision, on the basis of its constitution and a draft treaty of Free Association with New Zealand. Many years of work and close consultation with successive New Zealand governments have gone into this exercise the Ulu said on 14 November 2005.

Outrageous exclusion of NZ Tokelauans
John Hayes claim that It is outrageous that the ten thousand Tokelauans living in New Zealand are to be excluded from this vote is not the only example of expatriate Pacific people wanting to participate in the political affairs of their country of origin.

New Zealand based Tokelauans were not the only Pacific Islanders who said in 2005 they wanted a say in the affairs of their country of origin -Tongan New Zealand also spoke up.

The people living on the home Islands and those now overseas have different points of view.

The Ulu said Mr Hayes asserts that all Tokelauans must participate in the referendum, even if they have never lived in Tokelau and never will.

Consultation - but not control - from overseas
"The strong links between Tokelauans living here and our compatriots overseas are of course highly valued. That is why we are putting so much effort into consultations with our overseas communities" the Ulu said.

"Is Mr Hayes suggesting that Tokelauans living in other countries be given the chance to push Tokelau into a new status and partnership they did not want, or to hold us back from an arrangement that we wished to try?" the Tokelau leader said.

"We are after all setting the bar at an overall majority of over two thirds of votes cast in the referendum."

"Tokelau moves at its own pace, testing each step beforev taking the next one. That is our way" the Ulu said.

Hayes experienced in Pacific
John Hayes ended his career in the New Zealand Foreign Ministry in 2005. Bureaucracy was increasingly less of a challenge to him because of emphasis required by this Government on process and risk aversion. He found it increasingly difficult to feel that taxpayers were getting value for money.

John Hayes had worked as a foreign affairs official with then New Zealand Foreign minister and current Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon in brokering a significant peace agreement to end a crisis in Bougainville.

Uncomfortable with Labour Pacific responses
John Hayes had told Parliament in his maiden speech that he was uncomfortable with responses the Labour led government had made to developments in New Zealand’s wider neighborhood; for example in Solomon Islands and Fiji.

“2000 was a year of shame. We ignored several requests for help from Prime Minister Ulufa’ulu to preserve democracy in his country. I did not believe in the decision to separate NZAID from the Foreign Ministry” he said in 2005 of events that took place whilst he was in MFAT.

Public servants – question value to community
His first Parliamentary speech also had a message for public servants. “Please keep your feet on the ground. Our country has the population of Sydney. Sydney does not support a foreign service operating in fifty countries with a thousand staff. Sydney does not run an aid programme costing $400m annually. Nor does Sydney pay for an army navy or air force. Before you engage in activity on the back of taxpaying citizens please look really carefully at the value being returned to the community” John Hayes, MP for Wairarapa told his former colleagues and his wider audience.

NZ investment in world court role questioned
He noted “the self-congratulation for securing Sir Ken Keith’s place on the world judicial stage”.

I ask, what the millions of dollars of time and expense chasing this outcome will deliver to my constituent? It is one thing to secure influence in the World Trade Organisation as Mike Moore achieved under a National Government but quite another to spend taxpayer resources on a position that will deliver nothing to them. All the more so when you could have spent that time and energy pursuing apple access in Australia. I have constituents about to loose their businesses because of inactivity on the issue he said.

From Anthony Haas, Asia Pacific Economic News correspondent in New Zealand’s Parliamentary Press Gallery

Updated 21 February 2006

  

 

 

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