|Motto: Fakatahi o tagata|
|Area:||5 sq. mi.|
|Population:||approx. 2.000 Tokelauans/Tokelavians|
|Others:||Fijian, Brithenig, Mandarin|
|Ulu-o-Malo (head of govt):||Kulouei Ua Briain|
|Declared:||26 October 2007|
|Recognized:||21 July 2009|
Tokelau consists of four small atolls in the Pacific Ocean: Atafu, Nukunonu, Faka'ofo, and Olohega. On 21 July 2009, the islands were officially sold as a private colony to Pacific Ecotours, LLC, a corporation owned by Andrew Morris, Master of Lundy. Under a constitution and set of treaties approved in March of that year, the islands are a republic with internal autonomy and a free-association agreement with Fiji. Before the transfer, Tokelau had been an administrative subdivision of Fijian Polynesia, which is a unitary dependency of the kingdom of Fiji. Between 2008 and 2009 Tokelau was de facto administered by a locally elected Provisional Government.
As a nation of small atolls, Tokelau has always been part of the economic sphere of influence of Fiji, a resource-rich group of high islands. Political takeover came during Fiji's years of Brooke family rule, when the Brookes "followed the canoes" and transformed Fiji's trade network into a centralized empire. During the Great Oriental War Tokelau was occupied by China and liberated by Aotearoan troops. After the war, the troops remained, and the Great Chief of Aotearoa claimed Tokelau for a while. Eventually Aotearoa relinquished the island, and it passed briefly to Kemr before returning to Fiji. Tokelau has also been claimed by the King of Kiripati at one time or another.
Tokelau's southernmost island, Olohega, was once privately owned by the family of Eli Hutchinson Jenyns, an Anglophone adventurer originally of Kent, NAL. However, a Jenyns lost the island to a Brooke (the ruling family of Fiji) in a particularly high-stakes card game. Thenceforth Olohega was Fijian territory.
As a part of Fijian Polynesia, autonomy was discouraged in Tokelau. Each island had its own Council of Elders headed by a faipule, or leader. The faipule on Faka'ofu, the traditional chiefly island, was the faipule-o-tokelau, or leader of the archipelago, but had little real authority. The four islands were represented by two separate delegates in the Assembly of Fijian Polynesia: one delegate for Atafu and Nukunonu, and one for Faka'ofo and Olohega.
As one of the smallest island groups in Fijian Polynesia, Tokelau has always been underrepresented in the dependency's Assembly. This prompted Tokelauans to seek more autonomy. Beginning in the 1990s, a number of local leaders began campaigning tirelessly both at home and in Fiji. Prominent leaders included Luk Havaiki of Faka'ofo, the head of the traditional chiefly family; Aufai Tuia of Atafu, delegate in the Assembly of Fijian Polynesia; and local politician Kolouei Ua Briain of Faka'ofo. Ua Briain's election as Faipule-o-Tokelau in 2000 signalled local support for autonomy. In 2003, the elders of all four islands petitioned Fiji for change in status.
Tokelau won sympathy among the Austronesian League nations, who began pressuring Fiji to take steps to grant self-determination to the Tokelauans. Fiji grudgingly allowed for a referendum to decide the issue, but set the bar high: a 2/3 majority was required for a change in status.
On 26 October 2007, Tokelauans approved a referendum that proposed an "Autonomous Republic of Tokelau in Free Association with Fiji." (Nota bene: On that same day *here*, Tokelauans voted on a similar measure in regard to New Zealand, but failed to reach the 2/3 majority).
Immediately, the referendum caused controversy. Most of the leaders of Fijian Polynesia were rather indifferent toward the issue and acknowledged Tokelau's secession in November 2007, but not before Tuia physically attacked a Fiji loyalist delegate from Samoa on the Assembly floor who had ridiculed him during a speech.
Meanwhile, the meaning of the referendum was unclear. It specified an "autonomous republic" and "free association" without explaining the details of the new arrangement. Islanders were divided over the issue of loyalty to the Fijian crown: the leaders of the independence movement on Faka'ofu advocated total separation from Fiji, while others, particularly the Chinese community of Nukunonu, wanted to remain loyal to the Fijian Crown. By December, the loyalists were frustrated enough that they walked out of the constitutional convnetion, led by Nukunonu's faipule, Ake Liang.
Fiji, meanwhile, showed signs that it was not ready to let the islands drift away on their own. It requested the Aotearoan troops remain on the island to keep the peace, which angered many Tokelauans and ignited protests. King Thakombao of Fiji hinted that he might use the deadlocked convention as a pretext for nullifying the referendum and restoring Tokelau to colonial status.
- Fistfight in Assembly of Fijian Polynesia after Tokelau announces independence
- Tokelauans open constitutional convention
- Loyalist walkout threatens Tokelau's steps toward self-government
The provisional government
The convention reconvened early in 2008. As a compromise between the loyalist and secessionist factions, it created a Malo Faka'auau, or provisional government, to manage Tokelauan affairs while the leaders negotiated its status. Although it was intended as a compromise, it managed to infuriate Fiji. Who were these islanders, that they can unilaterally decide to start governing themselves without so much as a "please"?
Fiji refused to acknowledge the Malo Faka'auau or approve any of the legislation it began producing in March of 2008. It cut off all services to the island, including post, ferry, and its financial aid for energy and infrastructure that Tokelau had come to depend on. Essentially the victim of a blockade, Tokelau suffered more and more as food and electricity became scarce.
The rest of the world slowly began reacting to the controversy bubbling in the Pacific. New Francy managed to involve Tokelau in its political hibercrosse match, when opponents of the Intendant began making bold statements supporting the new "republicans". In the Commonwealth itself, Aotearoa came out in support of Tokelau, which quickly changed the islanders' opinions of the troops still in their midst. Commonwealth members began meeting in Aotearoa, where most expressed skepticism that Tokelau could ever support itself with a very small economy, a growing population, and no major tourist revenues like other Pacific islands. However, Fiji's harsh treatment of its errant colony made many Commonwealth nations increasingly sympathetic toward the islanders' plight.
Kereineke, the king of O'ahu, suggested that he be named King of Tokelau. Tokelauan leaders proposed this to Fiji as another possible compromise, but it was rejected. Fiji did not want to hand territory over to a rival in the Pacific.
- Tokelauans agree to compromise following Fijian warnings
- Tokelavians form provisional government
- Henua Council first to recognize Tokelauan government (1 March)
- First session of Tokelauan Provisional Government produces harsh words, flag
- Praise for republicans; Australasia remains silent
- Report: Tokelau nearly bankrupt
- Tokelauan leaders court O'ahuan King
- Tokelauan offer: Tributary to two monarchs; Tokelau begins electricity rationing
In April of 2008, Andrew Morris, Master of the Isle of Lundy, began secret negotiations with Tokelau and Fiji to transfer ownership and sovereignty of the islands over to him and his ecotourism company, in exchange for heavy investment in both Fiji and Tokelau. The three parties reached an agreement, announced in May.
The arrangement sparked international debate over the appropriateness of privatized statehood. The neocaptialists and ecotopians loved the idea. However, many in the Pacific were appalled at the sale of sacred land to an outsider, while many in the Federated Kingdoms did not approve of Morris's swashbuckling escapades and his playing king, as they see it. In July, the Pacific Ocean Regional Forum (PORF) rejected an application for membership from Tokelau's provisional government.
In September, the privatization scheme was narrowly approved in another Tokelauan referendum. The Convention finished a final draft for a Constitution in December. In March of 2009, the Constitution, Treaty of Transfer of Sovereignty, and a Treaty of Free Association were approved in Fiji's legislature. On 21 July, Tokelau ceased to be a direct dependency of Fiji, and Morris became Proprietor of the newly independent nation.
Internationally, Tokelau was granted membership in the League of Nations and the Commission on Very Small States soon after. Tokelau became a member of the Commonwealth of Nations in early 2010 after a vigorous debate by its new Parliament.
Obtained from the Archives in Lundy, the Letter that got the whole privatisation thing going:
TO: PROVISIONAL GOVT of TOKELAU
FROM: ANDREW MORRIS, LUNDY, FK
RE: OFFER TO PURCHASE
The purpose of this letter is to introduce the Provisional
Government of Tokelau to a purchase offer on the part of
the Master of Lundy, Andrew Morris.
Mr Morris is an entrepreneur engaged in the ecotourism
industry, acting as owner of several prominent ecotourism
firms around the world. Mr Morris is also experienced in
the legalities of purchasing and maintaining island
properties, being the present owner of Lundy, Margaritas
and several small private islands in the Americas.
Mr Morris is prepared to offer a generous buy-out package
to the Crown of Fiji in exchange for which the island
territories of Tokelau will become the legal property of
"Pacific Ecotours, LLC", a corporation that will hold the
islands in trust between Mr Morris's Kemr-based holding
company, "World Ecotours", and such representatives from
the Islands as are chosen to sit on the local board. Being
therefore a dependent State of the Master of Lundy, matters
of defence and international law fall firstly to the
Kingdom of Kemr in Federation with the other British
nations; secondarily by contract to Aotearoa and / or
Australasia. World Ecotours also provides adequate security
services for its properties, in addition to the security
offered by governmental defence forces.
Mr Morris has assessed the present yearly operating budget
of the Islands at approximately 200k FK pounds; this
expence will be assumed by the corporation, and the
Tokelavians will experience no hardship regarding
In consideration for this buy-out offer and territorial
arrangement; "Pacific Ecotours, LLC" will assess and
improve needful infrastructure; develop certain properties
in the Islands as ecologically oriented resorts (largely
involve snorkeling, diving, deep water diving, deep water
fishing); develop "high adventure" tourism packages as well
as develop a sensible and sustainable "family oriented" /
"fun adventure" tourism industry; and develop ecological /
marine biology research stations. Mr Morris has personally
agreed to leave the internal governance to the Provisional
Government, which arrangement will be permanently enshrined
in both any future Constitution as well as any contracts
made between our respective parties. Further income streams
would be developped, such as wider exportation of locally
produced handicrafts (through the Fair Trade Organisation),
and the production and dissemination of Tokelavian
currency, coins and stamps (to be produced and disseminated
by advanced facilities in Kemr).
We look forward to hearing from you after due diligence and
consideration of our offer.
We remain yours aye,
World Ecotours, LLC
- Private Investor for Tokelau?
- Tokelauan government: no comment on rumored buyout
- Fiji agrees to sell Tokelau to England's wealthiest subject
- Official statement: Tokelauans to vote on sell-out
- Tokelau's Shame (21 May)
- Cheques on the Beach: The sale of the Tokelau Islands
- Referendum postponed (News in Brief)
- PORF admits two candidate members, rebuffs another
- Commission on Very Small States gives stamp of approval to Tokelau's change in status
...And several other editorials bandied about the world press:
- "Dunein's policy of laissez faire in Lundy spell disaster for nation" [imagine a political cartoon of Kemr at a state function; standing behind him, looking dreamily off into space is Dumnonia, dangling an empty dog leash in hand; the hound of Lundy, fangs bared, is poised to nip Kemr in the bum]
- "New World Order? Mail Order Imperialism -- Self Made Rulers Buy Their Way into the Club"
- "Dunein Sets Province up as Rival to Kemr in World Politics"
The editorials are not all bad. Those who've actually taken a look at Mr Morris's proposal, and not just the flamboyant escapades, have a different take.
- "Sinking Ship of State Rescued by Timely Rescue" [a sinking ship labelled "Tokelau" is being fired upon by a ship labelled "Fiji"; various world organisations sit idly by playing cards; a dashing little cruiser labelled "Lundy" speeds to the scene]
- "Why has Tokelau Attracted the Interest of the Commonwealth's Most Wealthy Man?"
- "Green Economics as a Means of Promoting Self Governance for Micropolities"
- "The Green Commonwealth: Mr Morris's Plan for an Ecological Commonwealth of the World's Smallest, Most Ecologically Diverse Terriories"
Under the new Constitution, Tokelau's traditional local governing structures will remain intact. Morris has guaranteed complete autonomy in local government.
The archipelago will be governed by a unicameral parliament caled the Fono, divided into an elected lower house and an upper house consisting of village elders. The first election took place in late December 2009. The chiefly Havaiki family of Faka'ofo, who filled a mainly religious role since the island was colonized, decided to accept the title of Chief after much uncertainty about what they wanted their role to be. The Havaikis, in particular Chief Luk, have been crucial campaigners for self-determination. Therefore, Tokelau joins the family of self-styled "republics" that actually have a hereditary monarch. Under the provisional government, Chief Luk Havaiki had had a seat on the Provisional Council equal to all other members.
A recent news article contains relevant information on the new Fono's workings and on the ceremony devised for it:
PACIFIC PRESS ASSOCIATION -- 4.JAN.2010 -- Tokelavians gather to open island nation's first parliament
FAKA'OFO, Tokelau -- The Tokelau islands' long journey to self-government reached its end Monday morning as the country's two heads of state and a substantial portion of its population gathered in the new capitol to open its first legislature as an independent nation.
A Fono, or parliament, for all Tokelau has met only occasionally in living memory: the Fijian Kingdom, which governed Tokelau for a century and a half, first as a colony, then as part of the self-governing dependency of Fijian Polynesia, generally resisted efforts to organize the four atolls as a unit. Monday's ceremony, therefore, had few precedents to draw on, and in order to plan it Tokelau's provisional authorities combined the informal rituals of the islands' local fonos with more somber customs taken from Fiji, Britain, and Tokelau's own past.
The ceremony began with the newly elected Fono delegates processing into the chamber, led by the elders (literally, greyhairs) of all four atolls. Under Tokelau's constitution, the elders constitute an upper house for the Fono, although they are not expected to meet as a group very often and will serve mainly to provide advice and caution.
After the procession, the doors of the chamber were closed. Tokelau's two heads of state then arrived: Chief Luk Havaiki, whose hereditary position was confirmed in a coronation ceremony in August; and Proprietor Andrew Morris of England, who converted the islands into something akin to his own private property in March. Both were only admitted to the Fono chamber after an official escorting them outside knocked loudly with a ceremonial staff, symbolizing the Fono's freedom from direct control by either of them. Havaiki wore a headdress of coconut leaves modeled on that of Tokelau's pre-colonial chiefs, while both men wore the sulu wraparounds and the floral and shell pectorals of Fijian ratu. They were followed by escorts holding ceremonial coconut leaf fans.
After the Chief and Proprietor were seated, Father Penitito Dewidd Manuele, pastor and abbottof Faka'ofo's British Rite monastery church, led the assembly in a Matins prayer service. Four elders, one from each atoll, then stood to deliver the Tokelau Address, a traditional greeting of considerable ancientry delivered whenever elders of the four islands meet together. Each atoll delivers its portion of the Address in turn, moving geographically from Atafu, at the north end, through Nukunonu to Olohega, at the south end, and placing the chiefly atoll of Faka'ofo in the place of honor at the end. Elder Fatia Egeliko of Nukunonu then delivered a welcome speech, a custom taken from village fono meetings.
Egeliko then invited representatives of each island to present tributary gifts to the Chief, consisting of woven tapa mats and lei, or strings of pearl shells. Chief Havaiki then presented the mats to Morris, who adopted the role of a foreign suzerain. Havaiki kept some of the gifts for himself, representing the continuing sovreignty of Tokelau.
Both Havaiki and Morris then delivered Speeches from the Thrones, modeled on the practice in the British kingdoms. The speeches expressed the two leaders' wishes for the coming year -- and by extension, for Tokelau's presumed long future as an independent state. Havaiki's was more general and backward-looking, reflecting on Tokelau's many years under colonial rule and expressing enthusiasm for the future, but also advising caution. Morris articulated a somewhat more specific agenda, though he too avoided language that might indicate a preference for any faction within the Fono. He described his vision of ecologically sustainable economic growth in the islands, a variation on a theme every Tokelavian has likely heard many times in Morris' process of privatizing the islands to steer their economy into ecotourism.
Voting for the Fono's lower house took place on 27 December in an election closely monitored by the League of Nations' Commission on Very Small States. Each of Tokelau's four atolls comprise a separate electoral district, within which seats were awarded to the candidates who won the most votes in that district. Each voter could cast as many votes as his atoll has seats in the lower house.
Most striking in the election results is the poor showing made by the radical party of local leaders that has orchestrated Tokelau's drive for independence over the last decade, and which had dominated the Provisional Government. While the most prominent national leaders easily won seats, many of their allies did not. The Fono instead is full of leaders who favor maintaining ties with Fiji and joining the Commonwealth of Nations - something opposed by ardent anti-imperialists like Kolouei Ua Briain, Tokelau's provisional head-of-government since 2007.
The ceremony concluded with the election of a speaker to formally preside over the Fono's meetings for the coming year. After twenty minutes of deliberation, Kava Nasau, a respected moderate from Atafu, was chosen. He ascended the speaker's platform and declared the first Fono of Tokelau to be open. The assembled delegates and officials then processed outside, where they were joined by the onlookers for a celebratory meal.
Tokelau has unofficially flown a flag for quite a while based on its colonial seal under Aotearoan rule. The four stars represent Tokelau's four atolls. The Provisional Government created a similar flag with the Fijian flag in the canton. No flag has yet been proposed for Tokelau under Lundian rule.