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Historic Tokelau election: All three atolls vote in same electoral process

Thursday 26 January 2023 | Written by RNZ | Published in Regional, Tokelau

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Historic Tokelau election: All three atolls vote in same electoral process
Nukunonu residents head to the polls yesterday. The roles being voted on are Faipule or Cabinet Minister, Pulenuku or Mayor, Fafine or women's group member, Taulelea or men's group member and General Fono delegates. Photo: Supplied/Elena Pasilio/23012515

It was election day in Tokelau yesterday, with the population of about 1400 voting across four electoral locations.

Voting opened at 9am and was due to close at 2pm according to a government spokesperson.

Stations were set up at the three atolls - Atafu, Fakaofo and Nukunonu - and in Samoa people from Tokelau placed their papers in boxes at a site in Apia.

The roles being voted on are for Faipule or Cabinet Minister, Pulenuku or Mayor, Fafine or women's group member, Taulelea or men's group member, and General Fono delegates, with one person elected for each atoll.

The Taupulega, or Council of Elders, on Fakaofo atoll allocated three seats to be contested in this year's election.

But with only three candidates confirmed there was no election for the Fakaofo Taupulega seats.

Voter turnout was reported to be strong in Nukunonu yesterday morning.

This is the first time in Tokelau's history that all three atolls have taken part in the same electoral process with Nukunonu elders opting out previously.

But a government spokesperson said that has changed this year with Nukunonu candidates now allowed to put their hand up for multiple positions.

In Tokelau the head of government is the Ulu o Tokelau but they are elected at a separate time through a different process.

Tokelau is a realm nation of New Zealand and also has an administrator but the New Zealand government says it respects the traditional governance structures that are "integral to community life in Tokelau".