legalise samoan overstayers in nz

Samoan community leader, Fuimaono Ioana is calling on To’oolesavili John Key’s government to legalise Samoan overstayers. The call is echoed by Samoan church leaders in Christchurch last week.

She told the Samoa Observer it’s the least New Zealand should do to honour fifty years of the Treaty of Friendship for Samoans in New Zealand.

“John Key went to Samoa and honoured the Treaty there, but that’s only half the commitment,” Fuimaono said.

“The Treaty covers all Samoans and as of right now, nothing has been done for Samoans living in New Zealand. We have not been considered.”

There are six articles in the Treaty of Friendship. Article III states: “Each Government shall ensure that citizens of the other living within its territory are, in accordance with the normal practice between friendly states, given equitable treatment and full legal protection and access to the Courts.”

And Article IV states: “The two Governments shall continue to work together to promote the welfare of the people of [Western] Samoa. In particular the Government of New Zealand will consider sympathetically requests from the Government of [Western] Samoan for technical, administrative and other assistance.

Fuimaono says legalizing the status of Samoan overstayers would go a long way to honour New Zealand’s commitment not only stipulated by the Articles but in the spirit for which the Treaty was originally signed.

It is why, she explains, her ‘legalise overstayer’ call is not one for amnesty. “No, we’re not asking for amnesty nor are we asking for residence. What we’re asking for is a12-month period for people to come forward, have their eligibility reassessed, grant them a three-year working visa, and the opportunity to work through the residence process just like everybody else.

“That is simple, fair, and in line with the spirit of the Treaty. That is leadership.” She says there would be many upsides if such a move by the John Key government is made. “I know many of our people will choose to go back home. They would have gone back except for the fear that if they do, and members of their family die here, they wouldn’t be allowed back for the funeral or other big family events.”

Another will be an increased positive social outlook. “You see, once people are legalised it will be easier for them to find employment. When that happens there will be less stresses in society. We would see that through less incidence of family violence for example as former overstayers finding jobs will then be able to contribute and share family expenses. “Right now there are Samoans with permanent residence feeding ten or fifteen extra mouths, many are doing it living on the benefit. Legalisation would certainly improve those situations in many many ways.”

She adds the children of overstayer parents will thrive under a secured environment and enjoy the benefits of access to education and healthcare which will be good for New Zealand.

“There will be more young sporting stars for New Zealand coming through as these children can now stay in one place, register, and represent New Zealand,” says Fuimaono.

“To me such a move would epitomize the spirit of the Treaty of Friendship similar to Samoa granting amnesty to prisoners at its 50th independence celebrations.” But even though Fuimaono will again be taking the issue to political leaders, early indications are not favourable. When Prime Minister John Key visited Samoa to commemorate fifty years of the Treaty of Friendship, he would not comment about recent changes to New Zealand’s Immigration policy or subsequent queries on overstayers.

However, there was a meeting between Samoan politicians and New Zealand politicians who went to Samoa with Mr Key for the occasion. One of them, Su’a William Sio, told the Sunday Observer: “This topic [immigration quota] was brought up in the meeting with Samoan MPs during the Treaty of Friendship meeting.

“They were seeking a better way for Samoans traveling out and returning to Samoa. Because the most important part in satisfying quota conditions is a secured job offer. So we need to find a way that will make it easier for those whose names are drawn in the quota to get jobs.”

The issue of overstayers was also discussed. The biggest concern was how to reduce negative impacts on the children of overstayer parents. Last week, Labour’s Immigration spokesperson Ms Darien Fenton re-confirmed the concern to the Sunday Observer and what Labour will do about the situation.

“Labour is also concerned that there are young Pacific people who are, through no fault of their own, missing out on education, medical and hospital care as a result of their parents irregular status.

“Labour will investigate the reasons why there are a continuing number of Pacific people with irregular immigration status in order to curtail the increase in immigration scams, and to encourage Pacific people living illegally in New Zealand to regularise their status.” But Fuimaono wants more. She’s fed-up with the number of investigations that over the past has not yielded any solution.

“I have been saying this for the past thirty years, I’ve visited every government that’s come into power during that time, I’ve been to see everybody and no one wanted to discuss the issue of overstayer – its like a bad smell,” says Fuimaono. “But I’ve kept on pushing this issue because I know how it feels.

I was an overstayer myself and have gone to jail for it. But I’ve always said the greatest concern we need to address is the children. They are innocent yet they are out-casted and New Zealand has become a horrible place for them to grow up.

“Right now we have a solution, something can done about it right now.” She re-issued her challenge to politicians especially the Samoan members. “I challenge our parliament and more so our Samoan MPs, Su’a, Peseta, Le’au Asenati to stop thinking about their party policy on this issue. They should look at the overstayer issue with common sense and come up with a workable solution,” she says. “And the best solution is to legalise them by getting the New Zealand government to honour the Treaty of Friendship for us Samoans living in New Zealand.”

The Mana Party is fully supportive of Fuimaono’s call. Leader, Mr Hone Harawira has always maintained Pacific people are not overstayers. “They are our Pacific brothers and sisters.

A child of the Pacific cannot be an overstayer in the Pacific,” he said. “At some point in the future, this country has to recognize that it’s a Pacific nation. This is not England or South Africa, we let Australians come and go without even blinking.”

While Mana Party’s Vice President, Mr John Minto added: “New Zealand has a long history of treating Pacific island people with disrespect. Its discrimination, its racist and I think the time has come for us to put a line under all of that and move ahead.”

He said what needs to happen now “is to have a managed transition very quickly to allow Pacific people to come and go from New Zealand freely. It will save the country a whole lot of money, we wouldn’t have this rubbish that happens with immigration and we’ll be acknowledging the huge contribution Pacific islanders have made to this country.”


+3 #10 2012-09-05 15:26
Quoting pheeabotz:
I put money on it that half your relatives are on the benefit yet somehow escape your judgements. Legalize overstayers and let God have the last say as to who is productive or not.

What you have posted just might offend some people who's families may be seeking ways for employment and for a better future in this country hence the reason they do not want to return back home! P.S I'm sorry BUT your name PHEEABOTZ - says it all.
+3 #9 2012-09-05 08:40
Quoting pheeabotz:
I put money on it that half your relatives are on the benefit yet somehow escape your judgements. Legalize overstayers and let God have the last say as to who is productive or not.

- and How much money are you willing to cough up???
+4 #8 2012-09-05 08:36
Quoting pheeabotz:
I put money on it that half your relatives are on the benefit yet somehow escape your judgements. Legalize overstayers and let God have the last say as to who is productive or not.

FYI - I don't have any of my relatives on the benefit and only one retired aunty live in a council house because she can, she has worked and paid taxes to NZ most of her life. What's your story????.......
-4 #7 2012-09-04 22:15
I put money on it that half your relatives are on the benefit yet somehow escape your judgements. Legalize overstayers and let God have the last say as to who is productive or not.
+4 #6 2012-09-04 20:04
Those who overstay themselves in NZ or any other country probably don't want to go back for a reason and can't apply anymore.. All I say is - if they have found jobs and can contribute to the NZ economy, legalize them, if not, send them back. Please don't compare Samoan people to the refugees,,,,,,, there are bloody refugees who claim refugee status, live in council housing and the benefit but own businesses around the country under false names. Go Figure!!!
+2 #5 2012-09-04 11:45
I think we should give these people a chance and also set boundaries as to where they should stand..But I also agree with THEEZ NHUTZ's comment - "Overstayers that are not productive at all, send them back to Samoa" !
+1 #4 2012-09-04 09:01
I'm sure alot of the overstayers manage to find some type of employment. The NZ gov't should let them stay and offer those people a chance to get their status legalised. Overstayers that are not productive at all, send them back to Samoa.
-4 #3 2012-09-01 03:51
Coconuts that fall randomly at any time of day or night should be considered a 'threat to your life'. Therefore, overstayers should be upgraded to being asylum seekers.

+2 #2 2012-08-31 19:36
Overstayers should be processed like refugees and grant visas depending on circumstances. filter the genuine people who bring good change & economic growth for NZ.

i don't agree with dishonoring the friendship treaty for samoa overstayers alone? what about the rest of the migrants who are not citizens of NZ?

they lodge there applications and respect the protocol of what is required to earn the privilidge of living in NZ?
and you want NZ to hand it over because they should???? out of duty of 50 yrs of friendship.

there is a fine line where friendship can be tested.

Samoans leaving there island for a better future.
Refugees looking for a country to call home, who are living in tent citys from war zones with no water and food, maybe they deserve to call Samoa home. they would appreciate the island.
+5 #1 2012-08-21 14:26
I do not agree with this. What will happen if after 12 months and they have now found a job or money to file the apllications with? They will go back to overstaying their visas. Will you ask John Key AGAIN for another ammnesty?
What NZ should do is lighten requirements for Samoans in NZ to gain residency. Whatever thing NZ does, they will benefit whether it be education, sports or work. NZ knew well that they benefit alot from giving education help to children of Samoa. Why? Those children high [percentage of them will end up in NZ.

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