The Future of Tokelau: Decolonising Agendas, 1975–2006

Judith Huntsman, with Kelihiano Kalolo


'At the heart of this valuable study are the words of the Tokelauans themselves as they look towards the future and their role in the wider world on their doorstep. An essential book for any Pacific library.' – Christopher Moore, Christchurch Press


The Future of Tokelau is a sequel to Judith Huntsman and Antony Hooper’s Tokelau: A Historical Ethnography (1997), and follows the history of that small Pacific nation from the 1970s up to the recent referendum in which Tokelauans decisively voted against independence.

This is an extraordinary story – a dramatic narrative – sometimes taking place under the palm trees of far-away Tokelau, sometimes in the bland offices of New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, sometimes in the monumental UN building in New York. Officials and politicians and Tokelau elders all play their role and the repeated clash of cultures leads to comic, bizarre and often disturbing outcomes.

A superbly researched study of the politics of a small state in a modern world, The Future of Tokelau is also an illuminating picture of MFAT, its operations and relationships, and a brilliant critique of the United Nations and the way it conducts its affairs.



Judith Huntsman is an honorary professorial research fellow in Social Anthropology at The University of Auckland and a world expert on the history and anthropology of Tokelau. She is currently the editor of the Journal of the Polynesian Society.

Kelihiano Kalolo is the director of the Tokelau Campus of the University of the South Pacific, at Atafu; between 1998 and 2004 he was either Tokelau’s Director of Education or a member of the Modern House of Tokelau Project team.


September 2007, 240 x 170 mm, 300 pages, illustrations
Paperback, ISBN 9781869403980, $49.99