The basis of Tokelau's legislative, administrative and judicial systems is the Tokelau Islands Act 1948 and its amendments. (See the link "LAW") In November 1974 the administration of Tokelau was transferred from the Mäori and Island Affairs Department to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From then until September 1980, when the Tokelau administration regulations were amended, the New Zealand Secretary of Foreign Affairs was the administrator of Tokelau. New regulations then came into force whereby the Minister of Foreign Affairs was empowered to appoint a suitable person to be the Administrator of Tokelau. The New Zealand flag is used and the anthem is God Save the Queen.
Most of the powers of the administrator are delegated to Tokelau. As from 1 July 2004 the delegations will be with the 3 council of elders. See section on "How is Tokelau Governed?"
The principal organ of local government on each island is the taupulega (council of elders). Differences exist in the composition of the taupulega of the three atolls. In Atafu the council comprises the head of each family group together with the faipule and the pulenuku. In Fakaofo the council is formed by the faipule, the pulenuku and the village elders; the heads of families are only consulted when the council requires their advice. The Nukunonu council is a combination of the two; the elders, the heads of extended families, the faipule and the pulenuku.
The legislation and judicial systems are based on the Tokelau Act, 1948, and its amendments. A major law reform project is continuing; its purpose is to ensure that Tokelau has a coherent body of law which responds to current needs and gives due recognition to local custom.
Unless it is expressly extended to Tokelau, New Zealand statute law does not apply to the territory. In practice, no New Zealand legislation is extended to Tokelau without Tokelauan consent. The villages have the statutory power to enact their own laws covering village affairs. International covenants on economic, social and cultural rights and civil and political rights, ratified by New Zealand in December 1978, apply in Tokelau.
Civil and criminal jurisdiction is exercised by commissioners and the New Zealand high court.
There are nine Tokelauan police officers - three each on Fakaofo, Nukunonu and Atafu. They are responsible to the village authorities for the enforcement of law and order and to the public service for their various civil duties. There is little crime apart from petty theft and there are no prisons. Punishment generally takes the form of public rebukes, fines or labour.
Laws Governing Tokelau refer here