Back in the nineteenth century, New Zealand politicians like Julius Vogel and Richard Seddon dreamed of making New Zealand "a better Britain" - complete with its own empire in the South Pacific. The Cook Islands, Niue, and Samoa were all acquired at various times, and all have since gone their own way. Now, the sun is finally going to set on that dream: in a little over a month, Tokelau, our last colonial possession, will vote on independence - and is expected to opt for self-government in free association, just as the Cooks and Niue did 40 and 31 years ago respectively.
While I'm pleased to see Tokelau take this step, I can't help but worry about how well they're going to do. Tokelau is basically a subsistence economy - albeit with phones, an internet domain, and three geosynchronous satellite slots - and they will remain dependent on New Zealand aid for a long time to come, if not forever. But this is appropriate - after all, every single Tokelauan is a Kiwi, as much as if they'd been born in Auckland, Ashbuton, Dunedin or Te Awamutu. And as kiwis, albeit seperated by a few thousand miles of ocean, we owe them a helping hand.