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edit Polynesian United News Agency — 05.APR.2008 — Tokelauan leaders court O'ahuan king

WAIKIKI, O'AHU — Representatives of Tokelau's struggling provisional government arrived at the royal residence Friday for an "informal visit" with King Kereineke that was nonetheless laden with political symbolism.

Luc Havaiki, Tokelau's hereditary chief; Kulouei Ua Briain, the islands' elected head of government under Fijian rule; and other local dignitaries greeted the king with a variety of Tokalauan handicrafts, chief among them a large collection of hand woven tapa mats and exquisite jewelry of native coral and shell-- traditional symbols of royal tribute. Kereineke welcomed the Tokelauans into his home for a private reception and meeting expected to last for the entire weekend.

Some weeks ago, Kereineke had publicly suggested to reporters that Tokelau, whose month-old provisional government is nearly bankrupt, might solve its political difficulties by naming him as its monarch. Most commentators interpret this visit as a sign of definite Tokelauan interest in the king's proposal. However, the Kanawikian government has repeatedly disavowed Kereineke's overtures, both to the press and through diplomatic channels to Fiji. Fiji's government has refused to acknowledge Tokelau's provisional assembly, and Kanawiki has shown itself eager to avoid angering the kingdom, which is an important trading partner.

Kereineke and the Tokelauans are expected to attend mass Sunday in Honolulu in the Cathedral of St. Kalanikupule. [BK]

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