5 Mar 2003

New Zealand clarifies why Fiji rugby denied permits

4:40 am on 5 March 2003

The New Zealand Government has clarified why a rugby team from Fiji's Naitasiri province, has been denied entry into this country.

The Foreign Minister Phil Goff says three members were refused entry because they are on a blacklist of people allegedly involved in the May 2000 coup.

But he says the rest of the team was denied entry because it failed to meet the standard criteria for sports teams visiting New Zealand.

Mr Goff won't name the three alleged coup backers but it has been reported in Fiji that they include Government senator Ratu Inoke Takiveikata, who is also a paramount chief in Naitasiri.

"there are 3 people who are part of a sub-group, who happen to be on the black ban and the ban will apply to them as it will apply to anyone else who attempts to come to New Zealand from Fiji...the bulk of the people in the team of course are in no way involved with those activities...they are not banned for that reason"

Phil Goff.

He says the rest of the team is welcome to re-apply but has to show it can comply with the standard criteria governing visiting sports teams.