NZ's responsibility for Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau and Samoa

New Zealand, as the former colonial administrator of these four small island nations with little resources, should not abandon its responsibility to continue to provide assistance for their economic, political, and social development despite their independent or semi-independent status.

Many of our people are also citizens and residents of New Zealand where they have made a significant contribution to New Zealand’s stature as a nation highly regarded for its economic, social, and political stability, as well as its sporting prowess.

New Zealand is a second home to many Samoans, Cook Islanders, Tokelauans and Niueans.

Indeed, the gateway to Tokelau is through Apia and Tokelauans are always welcome to live in Samoa as Samoans.

This passage, requiring that travel to and from Tokelau be routed through Apia, was established by the New Zealand administration.

These four nations must never be treated the same as other states in the Pacific that were administered by the UK, US, France and Australia who have pursued their own special relationships to date.

Indeed, the residents of the four Polynesian island nations will play a greater role in the political affairs of New Zealand in the future, more than they already do today: a reality that any New Zealand Government must carefully consider in all its policy formulation towards these four small island nations.

Too often, successive New Zealand Governments have used their non-interference policy to respond to our request for assistance in facilitating the Samoan business community’s efforts to work together with Air New Zealand and other New Zealand business interests.

To Samoans, this is a very weak excuse.

The issue of citizenship in New Zealand for Samoans born before 1949 by Law and Court of Appeal decision reflect the true nature of the New Zealand leaders’ farsighted view of the continuing friendly relationship between New Zealand and its former colonies, a view which is also reflected in our Special Treaty of Friendship of 1962 and which is yet to be fully honoured by the present generations of New Zealand leaders.

There are not many Samoans alive today who were born before 1949 to benefit from the Privy Council decision of 1982, and I hope this reality and the above-mentioned thoughts will be remembered in the second reading of the Restoring Citizenship Removed By Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act 1982 Bill in the New Zealand Parliament which reopens the debate on the justice denied to Samoan citizenships of New Zealand, which the New Zealand Laws stipulated in the early 1920s and reconfirmed by the 1982 Privy Council decision.

New Zealand, which prides itself as a leader in social and political legislative reform in the Pacific, must continue to uphold that reputation by its actions and treatment of the citizens of these island nations.

Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi

Leader of HRPP

Samoa Observer

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