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Teanau Tuiono.

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Green MP in awe from 'tens of thousands' of public submissions for Sāmoan citizenship bill

Green Party's Teanau Tuiono, who's behind a bill that could restore NZ citizenship for some Sāmoans, said the overwhelming public input is "powerful" to see.

Vaimaila Leatinu'u
Aui'a Vaimaila Leatinu'u
11 June 2024, 11:58am
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A Green MP is in awe over the "tens of thousands" of public submissions made on a bill that could restore citizenship for some Sāmoans who had it stripped in 1982.

The member’s bill, Restoring Citizenship Removed By Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act 1982, passed its first reading and has now entered the select committee stage. The committee called for public submissions for a month and a half with the deadline closing last Friday.

Speaking to William Terite on 531pi’s Pacific Mornings, Green Party MP Teanau Tuiono, who introduced the member bill, says "tens of thousands" of submissions were made.

"I haven't seen the official number, there are tens of thousands," Tuiono said.

"There's still some coming in the post from Sāmoa as well.

"It was really powerful to see the community engaging in this way and engaging in this select committee process."


ACT and National: Taking 80 and 0 per cent to 100

Recently ACT Party Leader David Seymour said he was "80 per cent sure" they will support it into law and that "what happened back in the 80s with Muldoon was wrong".

"We supported it to first reading and we think we will continue to support it," Seymour said.

"But we're always a little bit careful about these things because once you change the rules about becoming a citizen, you can set a precedent that can allow a whole lot more people than you might have not otherwise decided according to immigration policy to let in."

Teanau said the 20 per cent that needs to be "sorted out" is that all political parties are wanting to see "a clear pathway" with the bill.

"In terms of what the intention is,[with] the bill, making sure that we support communities or elders," he said.

"Making sure that you can have a line of sight from A to B. I think [if] we can provide that line of sight for parties then that 80 per cent will go to 100 per cent."

ACT and National Party Leaders’, Seymour and Luxon respectively. Photo/Facebook

Additionally, the National Party, which is the sole party not supporting the bill, have raised concerns that it could lead to mass migration and legal challenges.

However, Teanau argues that legal challenges could happen with or without the bill and that parties must "come at this with an open heart".

"And an intention to look for solutions. Being in Parliament isn't an easy gig but you've got to have that commitment to making sure that you're going to resolve issues but also find a pathway forward.

"I would continue to encourage the National Party to do that."

What’s next?

Teaunau said from here the select committee and government will need to go through written submissions alongside organising times for oral submissions.

He adds that the second reading could be around August to October but that it ultimately depends on the submissions and analysis received.

"There are so many and there's been such a small capacity within the committee as well given there's so many bills going through the House.

"The committee will have to juggle that and then the analysis will get done along with different government departments that will offer advice.

"I will be looking for a pathway forward which is good for the community but also one that will make sure that it will get through the second reading as well."

Watch the full interview via 531pi's FB below: