Politics of Tokelau

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The politics of Tokelau takes place within a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic dependency. The head of state of Tokelau is Queen Elizabeth II in right of her Realm of New Zealand, who is represented by an Administrator (as of 2016, Linda Te Puni). The monarch is hereditary, the administrator is appointed by the New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The head of government is Afega Gaualofa, who presides over the Council for the Ongoing Government of Tokelau, which functions as a cabinet. The Council consists of the faipule (leader) and pulenuku (village mayor) of each of the three atolls. The office of head of government rotates between the three faipule for a one-year term.[1]

The Tokelau Amendment Act of 1996 confers legislative power on the General Fono, a unicameral body. The number of seats each atoll receives in the Fono is determined by population Fakaofo and Atafu each have eight and Nukunonu has seven.[1] Faipule and pulenuku (atoll leaders and village mayors) also sit in the Fono.[1]


On 11 November 2004, Tokelau and New Zealand took steps to formulate a treaty that would transform Tokelau from a New Zealand territory to an entity that is in free association with New Zealand. Besides drafting a treaty, a United Nations-sponsored "act of self-determination" had to take place. The referendum, supervised by the UN, started on 11 February 2006 and finished on 15 February 2006. Although a 60% majority voted in favour of the proposal, a two-thirds majority was required for the referendum to succeed, so Tokelau remained a New Zealand territory. In June 2006, Kolouei O'Brien announced that the Fono had agreed to hold another referendum.[2] This second referendum took place between 20 and 24 October 2007 and again fell short of the two-thirds majority required for independence, with 64% voting in favour.[3] In April 2008, speaking as leader of the National Party, future New Zealand Prime Minister John Key stated that New Zealand had "imposed two referenda on the people of the Tokelau Islands" and questioned "the accepted wisdom that small states should undergo a de-colonisation process".[4]

Government members

For the period 2011–13, the following were the faipule of the three atolls, sharing the following ministerial portfolios. Foua Toloa was Ulu o Tokelau (head of government) for the period from February 2011 to February 2012.[5]

Member Position Portfolios
Foua Toloa Faipule of Fakaofo
  • Finance
  • Telecommunications
  • Energy
  • Transport
Keli Koloi Faipule of Atafu
  • Economic Development, Natural Resources and the Environment
  • Education
Salesio Lui Faipule of Nukunonu
  • Health
  • Support Services
Tinielu Tuumuli Pulenuku of Fakaofo
Faafetai Taumanu Pulenuku of Atafu
Panapa Sakaria Pulenuku of Nukunonu

See also


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