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The Tokelau self-determination referendum of 2006, supervised by the United Nations, was held from February 11 to February 15, 2006. The defeated proposal would have changed Tokelaumarker's status from an unincorporated New Zealandmarker territory to a self-governing state in free association with Wellington, akin to the Cook Islandsmarker and Niuemarker.

Despite the majority 60% who voted in favour of the proposal, the referendum failed to get the two-thirds majority required for the referendum to succeed.

The majority of Tokelauans reside in New Zealand, and were ineligible to vote in the referendum, in line with standard practice in United Nations mandated votes on self-determination. However concerns among this community may have influenced those who were eligible to vote, thereby contributing to the referendum's failure.

The passage of the referendum would have removed Tokelau from the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories, as the Cook Islands and Niue were removed from this list when they were granted self-governance in 1965 and 1974, respectively.

Outgoing Tokelau Ulu (head of government) Pio Tuia suggested in February 2006 that since the vote failed to pass by such a small margin, the issue was likely to be revisited in a few years' time. In June 2006, his successor Kolouei O'Brien announced that the Fono had agreed to hold a similar referendum again in late 2007 or early 2008; in the end, it was decided to hold a second referendum on self-determination in October 2007.

An unintended result of the United Nations' recent efforts to promote decolonization in Tokelau has been the re-emergence of a Tokelauan claim to Swains Islandmarker, which is legally part of American Samoamarker, hitherto a somewhat dormant issue.

Voting schedule

Date Location
February 11 Apiamarker, Samoamarker (Special overseas voting)
February 13 Atafumarker atoll
February 14 Nukunonumarker atoll
February 15 Fakaofomarker atoll


The proposal: "That Tokelau become a self governing state in Free Association with New Zealand on the basis of the Constitution and as in the draft Treaty notified to Tokelau".


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