21 May 2004

Minister for Pacific Island Affairs Phil Goff defends select committee's decision

4:33 pm on 21 May 2004

New Zealand's minister for Pacific Island Affairs Phil Goff, says the Parliamentary Select Committee had no choice but to reject a petition to reinstate New Zealand citizenship to some 50-thousand Samoans.

In 1982 the Privy Council ruled that Samoans born between 1924 and 1948 were New Zealand citizens, but the Muldoon Government passed an Act in the same year which overruled the legislation.

Mr Goff says the Act is in line with international human rights laws, and it's important now that New Zealand follows the committee's recommendations to review links with Samoa, including visa and immigration laws.

"The most positive of the recommendations of the Select Committee was to see how we can improve the Samoan - New Zealand relationship and there are things that we can do, for example, to make sure the full quota that Samoa is entitled to, that that quota is taken up and that will mean more to people than the theory over whether or not an act of 22 years standing should be repealed."

Phil Goff.