19 Mar 2013

Cook Island, Niue and Tokelau New Zealanders call for better recognition

8:22 am on 19 March 2013

New Zealanders of Niue, Tokelau and Cook Islands heritage say they're being treated as second class citizens in New Zealand and they want better recognition constitutionally.

Representatives from those communities have been giving their views on New Zealand's constitutional arrangements which are presently under review.

The chairman of the Pacific People's Advisory Panel on the Auckland Council, Reverend Uesifili Unasa, says they feel they are not getting the political resources and economic kudos they are entitled to because they are categorized as Pacific Islanders first and foremost.

He says that's despite Niue, Tokelau and Cook Islands being part of the New Zealand realm and their people being New Zealand citizens.

"They are simply saying they have a right for their languages to be ensured, they're also saying they have a right to resources that determine education and in health. They also believe that they have a right to be part of the political process."

Reverend Unasa is calling on the Pacific community to take part in New Zealand's constitutional consultations.