23 Jun 2009

NZ committee told of overstayers' plight

1:56 pm on 23 June 2009

The select committee investigating New Zealand's relationship with Pacific Island countries has been told hundreds of Pacific children don't go to school because their parents are overstayers.

Ben Taufua from the Pacific Island School Trustees Association told the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee in Manukau City last night that granting overstayers amnesty might help.

Makelita Kolo from the Tongan community says the children rarely get health care and when they are forced to see the doctor they never use their own name.

"It's simply a fear that the immigration might find out who they are, send them back where they have come from. They just go and use their cousin's name or a relative's name."

Makelita Kolo says people will be surprised at how big this hidden group of children is.