24 Jun 2009

Tonga Advisory Council in NZ supports calls for an amnesty for overstayers

10:17 am on 24 June 2009

The chairman of the Tonga Advisory Council in New Zealand is supporting calls for an amnesty for overstayers to encourage Pacific people to come forward and give evidence against immigration scams.

Melino Maka says Tongans and Samoans appear more vulnerable to such scams, and says he wouldn't be surprised if some workers on the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme had also been duped.

A Maori activist, Gerrard Otimi, is now facing deception charges over an alleged scam in which people paid 500 New Zealand dollars to join his Maori subtribe and get their passports stamped.

Mr Maka says more co-operation is needed with government officials to crackdown on scams and keep the Pacific community better informed.

"I just hope that our people wake up because talking to some of our community some of them still think that there's going to be an opportunity for them to gain some immigration status from there. So it's really hard when you try to talk to people. They['re] desperate."

Melino Maka.