31 Aug 2004

Samoan academic concerned proposed legislation will catch innocents in its net

2:08 pm on 31 August 2004

The New Zealand government is planning to introduce legislation which removes automatic citizenship rights for children born to parents who are not permanent residents or citizens.

The amendment to the Identity, Citizenship and Travel Documents bill is causing concern among Pacific island communities in the country.

The Minister of Internal Affairs, George Hawkins, says the bill will tighten up national security to bring New Zealand into line with much of the rest of the world.

But, Galumalemana Alfred Hunkin, of the Samoan Studies unit at Victoria University in Wellington, questions whether it is about security, and says those children affected, will suffer.

"I realise it's not an easy issue to deal with. But as a Pacific Island person, it would mean that people from that part of the world who would not necessarily fit into the bill of what we now describe as 'terrorists would also suffer unnecessarily."

Galumalemana says the proposed law could affect the relationship between Samoa and New Zealand at a time when they are making progress towards their Treaty of Friendship.