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Sign our open letter to the Prime Minister, calling on her to restore New Zealand citizenship for Samoans born between 1924 and 1949
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Tēnā koe Prime Minister,
Aotearoa is a Pacific nation. The interconnectedness of our whakapapa and history across Te Moana nui a Kiwa is as extensive and deep as the moana itself.
But our immigration system in New Zealand has been racist towards Pasifika people. Rather than honouring that unique relationship, our immigration system here in New Zealand has a track record of hostility towards Pasifika people. The Dawn Raids, which your government rightfully apologised for, will leave ripples felt within Pasifika communities for generations.
The Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act 1982 is a relic from this period that still exists today. In 1982, The Privy Council found that because those born in Western Samoa between 1929 and 1948 were treated by New Zealand law as “natural-born British subjects”, they were entitled to New Zealand citizenship when it was first created in 1948. This law removed the automatic entitlement to NZ citizenship for people in Western Samoa because the government at the time did not want a large number of people from Western Samoa claiming New Zealand citizenship.
Members of the Samoan communities here in Aotearoa that I have talked to have made it clear to me that they would like to see the Act removed, and that it would bring positive change for their communities. Additionally, Samoan and Pasifika leaders here in Aotearoa that I have talked to have identified its racist origins and explained how its removal would make a start in addressing the systemic racism which Samoan people, and Pasifika more broadly, still experience here in Aotearoa today.
I am calling on your support in my member’s bill, which seeks to repeal the Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act 1982 (the Act), and reinstate the entitlement to New Zealand citizenship for Western Samoan people that was rightfully theirs, which the Act removed.
August 1st marked 60 years since the Treaty of Friendship between New Zealand and Samoa was signed. Taking action to honour that special relationship, and to repair the harms to Pasifika communities that have happened through New Zealand’s immigration system, is overdue. Striving to improve and maintain this relationship has particular salience given the Government’s apology for the Dawn Raids in 2021. Samoan communities want to see that apology in action.
I would be very happy to meet to discuss this with you further.