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Pacific Island Law Campaign Targets Immigration

Press Release
Auckland, New Zealand
Monday 7 August 2000

A Pacific Island Law Campaign in Auckland will be tackling the Pacific Island overstayer issue over the next two months.

The PL2K campaign, run by the Grey Lynn Neighbourhood Law Office with the help of the Legal Services Board, is to run two seminars in Auckland for Pacific Island immigrants. The aim is to raise awareness about new rules relating to applications for residency which affect overstayers. The regulations take effect on 1 October 2000. The seminars have been partially funded by the Department of Labour who will be participating in the seminars. GLNLO Head Solicitor, Karen Ferris says it's important for the community to take a hands on approach to the overstayer issue.

"Our project is specifically designed to improve the Pacific Island communities' access to the law. Immigration is one of their biggest concerns," says Ferris.

The PL2K campaign will be using Pacific Island lawyers and community leaders to run the seminars. They will be held at churches in Otara on Friday evening, 25 August and in Avondale on Friday, 1 September. One of the Tongan community leaders, Alexis Huni, says many Pacific Island people were afraid of the pending changes.

"Many Pacific Island overstayers are afraid because they don't know their rights," says Huni. "They are worried about how much it will cost to sort out their problems and don't believe there is anything they can do to avoid getting sent back to the islands. Some of these people have been in New Zealand for many years and they have children who were born here."

"I know of one family who've been here thirteen years," he says. "They had nine children, five of whom were born in NZ, and four of whom were born in Tonga. When they asked about how much it would cost to start the residency application process, they were told the fee would be $3000.00 plus $500.00 filing fee to the NZ Immigration Service. The family's worried because they can't afford the fees, and they're scared they may be split up. "

The PL2K campaign was launched in June to help raise Pacific Island people's awareness of the law and their rights. The campaign has enlisted the services of more than eighty Pacific Island lawyers, community workers, translators, media people and church leaders.

Since June, PL2K has run a media campaign in several Pacific Island languages programmes on Pacific Island radio, television and newspaper networks. Immigration and family law are topics which have already been covered. Future topics include criminal law, consumer law, domestic violence and debt.

For more information contact:

Iulia Leilua PL2K Media Team 021 217 2457 ileilua@ihug.co.nz


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