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Decolonisation and Free Association: The Relationships of the Cook Islands and Niue with New Zealand

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posted on 2021-11-23, 10:25 authored by McDonald, Caroline

The Cook Islands and Niue are self-governing states in free association with New Zealand. The free association arrangements met United Nations decolonisation requirements. They reflected the needs and wishes of the Cook Islands and Niue, and the interests of New Zealand.  Views are divided on what influenced the emergence of the arrangements for free association, whose interests they represented, and whether they have fulfilled the expectations of the Governments involved.  The purpose of this thesis is to determine the formative influences shaping self-government in free association of these two states, and to reach a conclusion on how effective the free association arrangements have been in fulfilling initial expectations.  The first half of this thesis draws on primary and secondary sources to establish what influenced the offer of self-determination, the options available, the choice made, the free association arrangements that emerged and whose interests these represented.  The second half of this thesis turns to fulfilment of those expectations. It explores the flexibility of free association – the ability of the Cook Islands and Niue to make constitutional change. It examines each of the major elements of free association: holding New Zealand citizenship, New Zealand provision of necessary economic and administrative assistance and New Zealand responsibility for external affairs and defence.  The conclusion is that the free association arrangements have been of mixed effectiveness in meeting the Governments’ initial expectations.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

International Relations

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations


Fraenkel, Jon; Angelo, Tony