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Pacific Islands Community Target Of Hawkins Bill

Olinda Woodroffe, an Auckland lawyer specialising in immigration issues, is appalled at New Zealand Government moves to remove automatic citizenship to children born to mothers who are not New Zealand citizens or permanent residents.

She believes the Pacific Island babies are being targeted unjustifiably through an amendment being added to the Identity Citizenship and Travel Documents Bill now before a select committee.

The Minister of Internal Affairs, George Hawkins, today confirmed the addition of the amendment.

Mrs Woodroffe feels so strongly about protecting the rights of unborn children she intends making submissions to the committee on behalf of the Pacific Islands community.

“What he [Mr Hawkins] is proposing is contrary to any New Zealand laws and conventions New Zealand is a signatory to,” Mrs Woodroffe says in a statement.
“I do not believe he has evidence. He suggests Pacific Islands women fly here to have their babies. If that is the case, it is only the minority of women who can afford to do it.

“We are talking about the rights of individuals --- unborn babies --- who have had no say in the process. To take away their right of citizenship of the country they are born in is like declaring them a stateless person.”

To suggestions that New Zealand would be following examples set in other countries, Mrs Woodroffe says: “We do not need law changes just because other countries have done it. We have to look at our size and our duty to other Pacific nations as well as other countries that feature in our immigration data.”

She challenges Mr Hawkins to state publicly why he believes New Zealand requires such a change and to identify the nationality of mothers whose babies are causing concern.

“Many New Zealanders will conclude this [amendment] is aimed at Pacific Island women who will come here and have babies while they are overstayers,” she says.

“I am sick and tired of Pacific Islands people being labelled as being the cause of the problem which New Zealand now says it needs to address by way of law change.

“Why can we not have a balanced view showing how Pacific Islanders excel? They are more than just good rugby players. They have made a vast contribution to this country since the migration of the 1950s.”

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