Government's immigration reset overlooks Pasifika - Green Party's Teanau Tuiono

By Kelvin McDonald
Photo / File

The Greens are continuing their call for an amnesty for Pasifika overstayers and are also urging the government to reconsider this week's immigration reset so that it better reflects Aotearoa's relationship with our Pacific neighbours.

On Wednesday, the government announced "new rebalanced immigration settings" designed to attract high skilled migrants to New Zealand and streamline their pathway to residency for globally hard to fill roles.

However, Greens Pacific peoples spokesperson Teanau Tuiono (Te Uriroroi, Ngāpuhi, Ngāi Takoto) says Pasifika have been overlooked in the immigration reset.

“After numerous calls from the community, including a petition from the Pacific Leadership Forum calling for pathways to residency for overstayers who have been in New Zealand during the pandemic, the Minister (of Immigration Kris Faafoi) had said overstayers were being considered as part of the immigration rebalance.

“But the announcement this week left them out. There was nothing for Pasifika overstayers in the immigration rebalance, even though these fanau continue to live in dangerous conditions and are more at risk of getting seriously unwell from Covid-19," Tuiono said in a statement Saturday.

“The immigration rebalance should have been directed towards migrant workers, Pacific families, and people who have already lived in, and put down roots, in Aotearoa for many years."

Tuiono says the government missed the opportunity to address concerns raised by Tonga's Princess Fotofili last year.

“Wednesday’s immigration announcement was a chance to address the concerns raised by HRH Princess Mele Siu’ilikutapu Kalaniuvalu Fotofili at last year’s Dawn Raids apology, who said, ‘the vā could be better and complete, should the Government promptly respond to the immigration-related needs of the community.'"

Greens Immigration spokesperson Ricardo Menéndez March added that the government's reset is weighted toward wealthy immigrants. 

“New Zealand is entrenching a two-tier immigration system through this rebalance, where wealthy immigrants have guaranteed pathways to residency, but low-waged migrants in essential areas like aged care are denied this certainty.

“Migrants from the Pacific and elsewhere who come to New Zealand and care for our elderly, build our infrastructure and homes, and process our food deserve to be recognised and supported, not kicked out if their employers decide they’re no longer useful.

“The Greens will continue to call for an amnesty for overstayers, pathways to residency for our Pacific neighbours on temporary work visas, the reopening of the parent category visa, and a review of the non-visa waiver status of many Pacific island nations,” Menéndez March said.