(TITULAR HEAD OF TOKELAU)
MONDAY 23 JUNE 2008
Mr. Chairman - Your Excellency Ambassador Marty Natalegawa
Distinguished Members of the Special Committee
Ladies and Gentlemen
With your indulgence and in accordance with Tokelau's protocol I would like to begin by greeting you in the language of my ancestors:
Tui Tokelau e...
Fanake la ki to lagi
(Ascend to your heavens)
Kaumai ko ona kai - he tai
(Bring blessing abundantly)
Fanaifo ko ki to kuavao, kelekele ma ona kai - he tai
(Descend to your land. We ask for your blessings to the forest, trees and all our surroundings)
Fanaifo la ki to uluulu tena, o namo tena, ma to moana ko ma ona kai - he tai
(Descend to your seas. We ask for your blessings to the reef, lagoons and oceans)
He tai, he tai, he tai,
(May these blessings come abundantly)
Tui Tokelau e....
We continue to acknowledge and give thanks to the Almighty for his continuing protection and guidance that has enabled the Ulu o Tokelau and his delegation, and the Administrator of Tokelau - Mr. David Payton to be here today. I would also like to acknowledge those that have made this trip a success for me while here in New York especially to the Government of New Zealand Permanent Mission to the UN, Her Excellency Ambassador Rosemary Banks and her dedicated team for their support.
Mr. Chairman, firstly, let me take this opportunity to congratulate you and the Government of the Republic of Indonesia on your appointment to the role of the Chair of this Special Committee. Tokelau wishes you Mr. Chair and your good Officers well during your term in this important Committee. I would also like to convey Tokelau's appreciation to Her Excellency Ambassador Margaret Hughes Ferrari of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the former Chairperson of the Special Committee. Similarly I would like to acknowledge the support within the Committee from other governments especially the Government of Papua New Guinea to His Excellency Ambassador Robert Aisi who is now very much a part of Tokelau, we do appreciate all your support and I thank you and your Government.
Mr. Chair, today I stand before the Special Committee for the fifth time as the Ulu o Tokelau. I feel encouraged that over the great distance that I traveled through from Tokelau, there are honorable and dedicated men and women (the Special Committee) on this side of the globe that do follow Tokelau's political development closely. This Committee has and shares something that Tokelau also feels. We are bound by the dream and the common aspirations that the people of Tokelau should be free to govern their own affairs, and to make decisions on their own - this is a gift and memory that I will take back to the villages and elders of Tokelau for them to know that you, the Special Committee, are here and you look well, and fully committed. Tokelau will continue to look towards the Special Committee for its independence and guidance with regard to the eradication of colonialism to the colonial countries and peoples.
Mr. Chairman, today I would like to share with this Committee a few key points about the importance of Tokelau's decision towards self determination and how this affects our dreams and aspirations.
Traditionally, at the helm of decision making in Tokelau sits the Taupulega or the Council of elders of each village who represent the wisdom, leadership and tradition that has sustained the lives of our people in the tiny, remote, and fragile atolls for generations after generations. The Taupulega are the entrusted guardians of our way of life - our culture and tradition.
On 29th May 2004, the Administrator of Tokelau, being mindful of the Taupulega's status and in line with the New Zealand Government's support for Tokelau's self autonomy, delegated his executive powers under the law to the Taupulega. It is important to note the three Taupulega acting jointly and cooperatively with each other became the supreme and chief authority of Tokelau. In recognition of the challenges of nationhood that lay ahead, the Taupulega humbly and jointly further delegated these powers to the General Fono. When the General Fono is not in session, the Council for the Ongoing Government, chaired by the Ulu o Tokelau, becomes the Government of the day.
On 30th July 1994 when the Ulu o Tokelau delivered his Statement to this Committee he conveyed that "an act of self-determination in Tokelau is now under active consideration, together with the constitution1 of a self governing Tokelau, and that the present preference of Tokelau is for a status of free association with New Zealand".2 These sentiments carried the voice of Tokelau - i.e. the three Taupulega, and the General Fono.
Mr. Chairman, as this Committee is well aware on 19th November 2003 the General Fono, with the support of the Taupulega, endorsed self-government in free association with New Zealand. This decision was made by consensus of the meeting, and was confirmed by a unanimous vote. The decision remained the basis for which the Government of Tokelau would realign all its resources in support of self government.
Mr. Chairman, I hope that I have painted a picture which demonstrates to this Committee why Tokelau will not rest on this issue of self government following the two Referenda attempts. As a Tokelauan leader, I find it hard to close my eyes at night knowing that a decision of my elders on the future of Tokelau is still pending. I request therefore through you Mr. Chairman for this Committee to seriously consider Tokelau's position.
Perhaps the Committee may wish to ask, why then did the two Referenda not achieve the required majority to support a self governed Tokelau. We have attempted to analyze the situation and there were several issues identified, including the influence of those who had left Tokelau to live overseas for a want of a better life. On the other side of the coin, Tokelau asks the question and seek this Committee's guidance, in regard to Tokelau's case - is the voice of our Taupulega and the General Fono not heavy enough to still warrant a Referendum?
Mr. Chairman, I raise this question only in respect of Tokelau's situation on decolonization. While the Referenda in its process had been recorded as successful, it is unfortunate that its result has questioned the fabric of our traditional and decision-making institutions that has sustained our way of life for generations. In my heart, it is important that Tokelau be self determined soonest, for any delay would only prolong the pain I see through the eyes of my elders - the Taupulega and the majority who supported a self governed Tokelau. As the Ulu o Tokelau I encourage a self determined Tokelau that builds upon our traditional and cultural settings. We need to consider exhausting homegrown attitude and institutions of decision making.
The Government of Tokelau wishes for Tokelau to participate equally and freely with all other sovereign countries of the world. The Special Committee has a significant role and responsibilities to the Non-Self-Governing Territories such as Tokelau to support and achieve their aspirations. Tokelau hopes and aspires to be self determined when it is ready, hopefully if not in this decade then certainly in the next decade.
Mr. Chair, following the October 2007 Referendum, the General Fono agreed that Tokelau reflects on its needs and direction for the future. This period of reflection has certainly given more opportunity for the Government of New Zealand and Tokelau to work together in the development of Tokelau. As for the Ulu, the challenge is to unite all our people who voted in the two Referenda by addressing common needs. Tokelau's vision as far as realigning our resources "is to build a Tokelau that all Tokelauans would like to live in and be proud of". The Government of Tokelau with the assistance of the Government of New Zealand had worked together to direct key resources towards priority areas identified by Tokelau.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to speak on the continuing "exemplary cooperation of New Zealand as the administering Power". Tokelau is proud of its relationship with New Zealand. I thank the present Government of New Zealand under the leadership of the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Helen Clark for her continuing support for Tokelau and also other parties of the New Zealand Government who have conveyed their support for Tokelau and the aspiration of Tokelau to be self determined.
The Government of New Zealand has already committed NZ$43.1million under the Economic Support Arrangement (ESA) to assist Tokelau's infrastructural and capacity development needs for a three year cycle (2007/08-2009/10). The current ESA level is an increase of approximately NZ$15million from the level in the ESA for the previous three year cycle (2004/05-2006/07). Mr. Chairman and esteemed members of the Special Committee, the level of assistance and cooperation between Tokelau and New Zealand today reflects the level of trust, goodwill and the special relationship that has developed over the last several decades of the Government of New Zealand's assistance to Tokelau.
Under the current ESA, approximately NZ$4.1million is 'ring-fenced' for Tokelau's Infrastructure Development Project (IDP). The IDP will ensure that new school and buildings, and also ship-to-shore infrastructure are built in all the villages. The work on an efficient and reliable shipping service for Tokelau is progressing well, with a much awaited decision from the New Zealand Government to be released early this week which could see additional resources for Tokelau to get a new shipping service by 2010.
Mr. Chairman, the Tokelau Trust Fund currently sits at approximately NZ$35million. The Trust Fund which originally started on a "dollar-for-a-dollar" arrangement between Tokelau and New Zealand has witnessed the Government of New Zealand giving more. The Government of New Zealand gave NZ$5million at the end of last year. This Fund is an inter-generational fund which guarantees assistance of the present generation to Tokelau's children in the future. I am pleased to advise the Committee that the Trust Fund also received a substantial sum from the Government of Australia last week. I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Governments of Australia and Great Britain for their contributions to Tokelau's Trust Fund over the years. I seek the assistance of this Committee and other UN agencies in lobbying further international support for the Tokelau Trust Fund.
I am pleased to convey that the work on Tokelau's capacity development has been closely supported by the UNDP Office in Samoa through the able leadership of Ms Naheed Hague3. The flexibility of UNDP to support Tokelau has seen funds been allocated for the much needed seawalls and capacity building for all the villages. Tokelau is currently working with regional organizations such as SPC4, USP5, SPBEA6, SPREP7, SOPAC8 and UN agencies such as UNDP - including Small Grants Programme (SGP), UNICEF, WHO, UNIFEM, and UNESCO to coordinate the effective delivery of resources. In acknowledging the support of these organizations, Tokelau also wishes to acknowledge the close and warm support provided by the Government of Samoa.
Mr. Chair as Tokelau progress with self government, we continue to voice the concerns that Tokelau is vulnerable given its size and fragile geographical attributes. In our efforts and attempts to deal with these issues, Tokelau is currently working towards an energy policy that will allow our small atolls to operate on 100% renewable energy9. This project will be very expensive as it will cost approximately NZ$10million to put together this system. Tokelau hopes that in building an environmental friendly footprint we will certainly address the issue of high fuel costs. I wish to convey our commitment and responsibility in the area of global warming and climate change.
It is unfortunate when we begin to contemplate issues concerning our own country's non-existence, nevertheless it is important that we discuss this freely and openly with the view that we should protect our people at all costs. In this regard, Tokelau makes a plea to this Committee to consider this very important issue as a development concern for Tokelau as it continues to move towards self determination and also convey to the 63rd Session of the UN General Assembly Tokelau's situation in regard to global warming and sea level rising especially for Small Island States.
Mr. Chairman, to end my statement, I would like to reiterate to the Special Committee that the Taupulega, the General Fono and the Council for the Ongoing Government are desirous of Tokelau to be self determined. The weight and the decision of these institutions are further supported by the 64.4% of our people in the last Referendum. I would like to convey today that Tokelau will not give up the challenge and aspirations of its people to be self determined. We as a people have come this far and the journey must continue until we reach our target - a self determined Tokelau. This is our aspiration which I believe this Committee shares.
I would like to report to the Committee that the work on identifying Tokelau's national flag, anthem and a national symbol is progressing well. I hope that this Special Committee will be able to view Tokelau's flag, anthem and symbol when you next convene in 2009. I am also pleased to share with you that for the very first time we have a Miss Tokelau this year. The Miss Tokelau 2008 will be competing in the Miss South Pacific Pageant to be held in American Samoa in October. This is a decision by our National Women's Group, and supported by the General Fono, to acknowledge and increase the participation of Women in the development of Tokelau as it continue to move to self government.
Mr. Chair, I convey well wishes to the Members of this Special Committee as you continue to hear the voice of colonial countries who aspire to have the right and opportunity to determine their future political status. The Committee has come a long way and so as Tokelau. I would like to end by giving words of encouragement and blessings to this Committee for keeping the aspirations of all colonial countries and peoples to be free, in this second decade of the 21st century.
Thank you Mr. Chairman for the invitation and the opportunity given to Tokelau to address the Special Committee and may our Almighty God continue to guide your deliberations.
Ke fakamanuia e te Atua te Komiti ma ke ola ia Tokelau....
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.