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Samoa Citizenship Legislation Advances in NZ Parliament.

April 10, 2024 - The New Zealand Parliament passed a bill that aims to restore New Zealand citizenship for people born in Western Samoa. The group had their citizenship removed in 1982 by an act of law. The bill, called the "Restoring Citizenship Removed by Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act 1982 Bill," was sponsored by Green Party MP Teanau Tuiono.

The bill seeks to provide a route to citizenship for an estimated 5,000 elderly Samoans born between 1924 and 1949. MP Tuiono told Parliament that the bill was founded on "fairness." He added, "We had a group of New Zealand citizens who were recognised as such, and then they had their citizenship removed by statute. It's just not fair. The state should not be able to do that, to strip citizenship en masse."

The Act and New Zealand First parties supported the motion, an essential contribution to the bill's progression. Act MP Parmjeet Parmar said her party would back the bill's move to the select committee for further consideration. In contrast, New Zealand First's Casey Costello said her party intended to keep an open mind on the proposed law.

The bill passed its first reading with a vote of 74 to 49, facing opposition solely from the National Party. The 1982 Muldoon government legislation negated a Privy Council ruling, which had confirmed New Zealand citizenship for a group of people. This group had initially been granted citizenship upon establishing New Zealand's citizenship in 1948.

The bill will now have to go through the government administration select committee stage, and it needs the backing of either the Act or New Zealand First parties to pass.

If passed, the bill would automatically make those who were denied citizenship by the 1982 Act eligible for citizenship without any qualifying residency or application requirements. This move has been seen as a step towards fair play and equal opportunity, reflecting New Zealand's ongoing commitment to addressing past injustices.

The bill's passage has been welcomed by many as a long-overdue recognition of the rights of Western Samoans, and a step towards greater inclusivity and equality in New Zealand.


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