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NZ Petition for over-stayers to gain permanent residency status

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 24/06/2020

The Pacific Leadership Forum in New Zealand are calling for supporters for a petition to Parliament requesting the House of Representatives provide pathways for over stayers under compassionate grounds to gain permanent residency in New Zealand.

Representatives of the Tongan community along with representatives from 9 other Pacific Island communities in New Zealand make up the Pacific Leadership Forum, and although they are the group pushing this initiative but this petition is for all over stayers and not just Pacific Islanders.

The Pacific Leadership Forum identified families of over stayers as being vulnerable during the COVID-19 lockdown. COVID-19 has affected the lives of New Zealanders, and among the most vulnerable are the over stayers. They may be a public health risk for the country if they are scared to be tested or seek treatment. The petition states that the phrase “Be Kind, Be Safe” has been the saving grace phrase throughout this pandemic, and it calls on the Parliament – to show sympathy and compassion to the most vulnerable, the over stayers, and make New Zealand safe.

Makahokovalu Pailate one of the Tongan community leaders involved in groups under the PLF – told Radio Tonga News this morning – if this petition gets the over stayers permanent residency in New Zealand it would be extremely beneficial for the Tongan over stayers, especially in this difficult time facing several challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pailate says they have the support of two Parliamentarians – including the Minister for Pacific Peoples, who will be submitting the petition to Parliament on July 15th.

The exact number of Tongan over stayers in New Zealand has not been finalised but Makahokovalu says Tongan over stayers are one of the largest groups of over stayers in the country.

This issue was also raised in the Tongan Parliament where government said they were still looking into ways they can assist the over stayers abroad.

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