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SAMOA: PM supports NZ visa requirements

Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi. Photo: PMC

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Item: 8059

Lanuola Tusani Tupufia

APIA (Samoa Observer / Pacific Media Centre): Some Samoans who have had problems travelling to New Zealand are often those who have broken the law.

That’s the opinion of Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi when his views were sought on calls from members of the public for New Zealand to make visa requirements easier for Samoans.

During the celebration of the Samoa/New Zealand Friendship Week, one of the issues raised was immigration, namely the stringent requirements Samoans must satisfy to be granted a visa to New Zealand. Some people suggested that perhaps its time for New Zealand to consider doing away with visas for Samoans as part of the Treaty of Friendship.

Requirements met
Prime Minister Tuilaepa said Samoa has no control over what New Zealand does. In terms of opportunities for Samoans to visit, the Prime Minister said there are requirements already in place and they must be met.

“I know much of the issues about visa are related to the availability of job opportunities in New Zealand,” he said. Tuilaepa said the idea is to ensure “our people” don’t go there and depend on New Zealand for a living.

He said some people who struggle to get visas have criminal records.

“So people who have come to me for problems relating to issues with immigrations are often those who have broken the law in New Zealand,” he said.

Laws to protect
The Prime Minister said New Zealand’s Immigration Act was designed to protect that country, just as Samoans laws are designed to protect Samoa.

“We make our laws difficult for people to get citizenship,” he said.

“We know exactly why we do that and we can also see why New Zealand is doing what it does.”

Last week, New Zealand Prime Minister To’oolesavili John Key was in Samoa to mark 50 years of friendship between New Zealand and Samoa.

The two countries signed a Treaty of Friendship in 1962 - the only such treaty New Zealand has - and Mr Key launched Friendship Week with an expo of New Zealand food and beverage, and cultural events and exhibitions.

Forum talk
During a meeting with Tuilaepa, they discussed ties between the two countries, along with regional issues and the upcoming Pacific Islands Forum in Rarotonga next month.

Relations between the two countries have improved markedly since 1962, when Samoa gained independence from New Zealand administration, which was marred by two incidents resulting in many deaths of Samoans.

In 1918 and 1919, about one-fifth of the Samoan population died from influenza after New Zealand ship carrying infected passengers docked at the main island of Upolu.

In 1929, New Zealand police opened fire on Samoan demonstrators protesting against the administration, killing 11 people - including the country’s leader High Chief Tupua Tamasese Lealofi - and wounding 50 others.

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark apologised for those incidents in 2002, and Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae visited Samoa in May for the 50th anniversary of independence.

Lanuola Tusani Tupufia is a Graduate Diploma in Pacific Journalism reporter from AUT University.

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Pacific Media Watch

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Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators.
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