Australia officials accused of targeting Maori

7:10 am on 1 November 2015

The Maori Party says border control officers in Australia are victimising Maori people and deporting them on flimsy reasons.

A file photo of the jetty on Christmas Island (August 2013)

Photo: AAP

The party wants the Australian government to immediately return detainees of New Zealand descent from the remote Christmas Island to the mainland.

It has written an open letter addressed to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull which calls on his government to return detainees.

Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox said she presented the letter to an Australian Greens senator in Sydney.

Maori Party MP Marama Fox

Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

"We're trying to build some momentum and to support those Kiwis who are suffering and this is a breach of their human rights."

There were some cases where people were being stopped from returning to Australia because of criminal convictions many years ago in New Zealand, she said.

"The law change that was made was about questionable character. This senior gentleman who had lived in Australia for 36 years had come back to New Zealand for an unveiling and tried to go back to Australia but was rejected at immigration because he had a criminal conviction in New Zealand when he was 20 years old.

"He is now 60 and he is seriously ill and his wife and children all live in Australia. He is all alone without any support and it is despicable."

People who looked like they were Maori were being picked out by border control officers in Australia, she said.

"Border control forces [are] currently standing on the street corners in Melbourne and they are targeting brown looking people, people with ta moko, Kiwis, they are taking them off for questioning.

"If they consider you to have questionable character, you can be deported - you don't even have to have committed a crime."

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