11 Apr 2013

Call for Pacific nation citizenship to remain

7:04 am on 11 April 2013

A call has been made for people from the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau to be guaranteed New Zealand citizenship under any new constitution.

The countries are part of the Realm of New Zealand and their people are automatically New Zealand citizens.

Former Cook Islands cabinet minister Ngereteina Puna says citizenship for realm countries must be retained if New Zealand adopts a written constitution.

He says citizenship can be revoked at present by a simple vote of the New Zealand Parliament, whereas changing the constitution would require a two-thirds majority.

Mr Puna is part of an Auckland group that wants any new constitution to enshrine New Zealand's obligations to provide for the wellbeing of realm countries and their peoples.

The group says citizenship hasn't conferred the benefits their elders were promised, with Cook Islanders, Niueans and Tokelauans at the bottom of socio-economic statistics.