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Government Announces Pacific Access Scheme

Government Ministers today announced a limited access programme for residents from Tonga and the small Pacific atolls of Tuvalu and Kiribati.

Ministers Phil Goff, Lianne Dalziel and Mark Gosche announced details of the Pacific Access Category which will allow up to 250 people from Tonga, 75 from Tuvalu and 50 from Kiribati to apply for New Zealand residence each year.

The Ministers said the access programme provides an opportunity for people from these countries to migrate permanently to New Zealand but applicants must meet character, health and age requirements, have basic English language skills as well as a job offer.

The conditions of the Pacific Access Category are based on the existing Samoan quota which remains unchanged. The new category will replace the existing work schemes with Tuvalu and Kiribati, and the 375 places will be counted against the annual immigration programme which is set at 45,000.

“New Zealand has a special relationship with our Pacific neighbours and although limited, the scheme will assist these small nations,” Phil Goff said.

“The establishment of a Pacific Access programme was promised before the last election and we are honouring that commitment,” Lianne Dalziel said.

Pacific Island Affairs Minister Mark Gosche said the scheme was a positive step. “The Pacific nations concerned have welcomed this move and it will provide some certainty for these countries.”

The Pacific Access Category details are still being finalised but will be announced around June 2002, prior to its implementation on 1 July 2002.

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