2 Jul 2004

NZ Immigration Minister firm on Samoan visas

10:45 am on 2 July 2004

The Immigration Minister, Paul Swain, has ruled out allowing visa-free entry for Samoans to New Zealand.

Five-thousand people turned out in rain in Apia, on Wednesday, to seek their government's backing for a campaign to press New Zealand on the issue.

The New Zealand Green Party backs the campaign, but Mr Swain told MPs yesterday that there is no plan to return to a system that was dumped 20 years ago.

"Is the government currently considering visa-free access for Samoa? No. What's the best way to deal with this? In my view the best way to address it is through the quota system which we are addressing."

New Zealand officials are understood to have been looking at measures that could improve operation of the Samoan quota of 1,100 which is rarely filled.