INDEPENDENT NEWS

Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act 1982 Bill

Published: Wed 24 Apr 2024 04:33 PM
The Mau a Samoa i le Sitiseni 2024, a group of Samoans led by former Members of Parliament Anae Lupematasila Arthur Anae, and Afioga Aupito Toeolesulusulu Tofae Sua William Sio is stepping up its advocacy and awareness raising campaign to inform and encourage Samoans, and others, living in New Zealand and abroad to file submissions on the Restoring Citizenship Removed by the Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act 1982 Bill (‘The Bill’), which passed its first reading on 10 April 2024.
The Governance and Administration Select Committee of Parliament has called for submissions with a deadline of 31 May 2024. In July 1982, Dr George Barton and Mr George Rosenburg, took Falemai Lesa’s case to the Privy Council. On July 28 1982 the Privy Council made its decision overnight in the case of Falema’i Lesa v the Attorney General (New Zealand), ruled that all Samoans, born on or after 13 May 1924 and before 1 January 1949 and their descendants, were New Zealand citizens. During that period, Samoa was under New Zealand administration. The New Zealand government feared that the Privy Council’s decision would open the door for more than 100,000 Samoans to flock to New Zealand and so, in response, it took immediate steps to thwart this perceived effect of that decision.
Using the Treaty of Friendship between New Zealand and Samoa, New Zealand spearheaded talks between the two governments resulting in the Protocol to the Treaty of Friendship (‘The Protocol’). This was signed on 21 August 1982, not even four weeks after the Privy Council decision, suggesting a rushed process, given the significant effect of the new law New Zealand wanted to introduce. The Protocol came into force on 13 September 1982; it provided that:all citizens of Western Samoa, who were in New Zealand on the date the Protocol came into force, were granted the right to become New Zealand citizens immediately upon application; andcitizens of Western Samoa who traveled to New Zealand after the Protocol came into force, and who would have been granted permanent residence in accordance with New Zealand’s policy and practice prior to 19 July 1982, were granted the right to become New Zealand citizens immediately, upon application, after acquiring permanent residence.
The New Zealand Parliament then passed the Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act 1982 (‘the Act of 1982’) in order to implement the Protocol and other provisions relating to citizenship of persons born in Western Samoa before 1949, and others claiming citizenship by descent or marriage through such persons.
The Act of 1982 was created and passed with astonishing speed by the New Zealand Parliament. It came into force on 15 September 1982, less than eight weeks after the Privy Council decision. It stripped citizenship from Western Samoans who the Privy Council had already declared to be New Zealand citizens. Most of them were never given the opportunity to be heard.
Under the Act of 1982, the following people were “deemed never to have been New Zealand citizens”:every person born on or after 13 May 1924 and before 1 January 1949;every female who, on 1 January 1949, became a New Zealand citizen by being married to a person in 1 above;every person who was a descendant of persons in 1 and 2 and who was born before 1 January 1949;every female who, on 1 January 1949, became a New Zealand citizen by being married to a person in 3;every person who is the descendant of any person in 1, 2, 3, or 4 and was born on or after 1 January 1949.
The Bill provides firstly, for the restoration of citizenship, by grant of citizenship as of right, to those persons described in 1 to 5 above, and secondly, for the repeal of the Act of 1982. Grant of citizenship as of right means that if your citizenship was removed by the Act of 1982, you have the right to apply to be granted citizenship without any other requirements.
The Mau’s position is that it supports the Bill to restore citizenship to persons described in 1 to 4 above. However, in respect of persons described in 5, the Mau recognises the socio-economic impact, on both New Zealand and Samoa, that would arise from restoring citizenship to these people. The Mau therefore encourages the two governments to utilize the provisions of the Treaty of Friendship and its Protocol, to engage in concrete and effective consultations on the quota system and other immigration issues.
The Mau urges and encourages individuals and groups to express their views on the Bill by filing submissions in one of the following ways:Online by using the template for submissions on the New Zealand parliament website www.parliament.nz;or By hard copy sent to: Secretariat Governance and Administration Committee Select Committee Services Parliament Buildings WELLINGTON 6160, NEW ZEALAND
For any further information please contact Seuli Leofo Tone Peseta at tone.peseta@pmn.co.nz; or Tofilau Nina Kirifi-Alai at tofilau18@gmail.com.

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