Greens call on Govt to grant visa waiver status to all Pacific countries

The Green Party is calling on the Government to change visa settings to allow people visiting Aotearoa from the Pacific Islands to do so without having to apply for a visa.

“Pacific peoples should be able to travel to Aotearoa to visit their family regardless of their income and without having to jump through colonial hoops to spend time with each other,” says the Green Party’s spokesperson for pacific people, Teanau Tuiono. 

On Tuesday, 1News reported that half of the visitor visa applications rejected by Immigration NZ are from people traveling to Aotearoa from the Pacific. One of the reasons given is that people visiting from the Pacific do not meet the criteria of a “bona fide” visitor. 

“Immigration NZ is rejecting visa applications on the basis that it thinks Pacific people might want to stay in Aotearoa long-term - often because of an outdated and, frankly, racist assumption they are poor, or unemployed. 

“On this basis, it would seem the dawn raid era perception of Pacific peoples as over stayers is alive and well in our visa rules. These colonial-era rules mean freedom of movement remains a privilege of the wealthy, while hundreds of Pacific people are prevented from seeing their families.

“In the wake of last year’s eruption of Hunga Tonga–Hunga Haʻapai, for example, people had to wait ages to get a visitor visa approved before they could be with their families in Aotearoa after the disaster.

“This is just one example of where current visa rules bear little relation to the reasons why Pacific people visit Aotearoa - and what they need when they are here with whānau. Pacific values of manaakitanga mean that when a loved one comes to visit us in Aotearoa, they do not need a whole lot of money to be here.

“If this Government genuinely believes what it says when it talks about Aotearoa New Zealand as part of a family of Pacific nations, then it needs to update visa rules immediately to better reflect Pacific values. 

“The Green Party is clear that people across the Pacific should be able to visit their families in Aotearoa regardless of their income.

“We wrote to the Minister in June calling on the Government to improve visitor access from the Pacific. With data now suggesting that Pacific people are disproportionately prevented from visiting Aotearoa, we call on the Government to immediately grant visa-waiver status to all Pacific countries,” says Teanau Tuiono. 

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