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Green MP Teanau Tuiono

Green MP Teanau Tuiono

Photo/ VNP / Daniela Maoate-Cox


Sixty-three is the magic number for citizenship member's bill

Green MP Teanau Tuiono will need cross-party support if his bill, to restore citizenship to Samoans who had it stripped in 1982, is to pass into law.

Pacific Mornings
27 March 2024, 3:37pm
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If all the Opposition parties support the bill that aims to restore New Zealand citizenship for Samoans who had it stripped from them in 1982, votes from one of the political parties in government will still be needed to get past the first stage.

Green MP Teanau Tuiono needs to reach the magic number of 63 votes for his member's bill to get through the first reading - which is expected to be in early April – but he may not know until it’s actually voted on whether it will be successful.

“We don't get 63 votes, then the bill is dead right there,” he told Levi Matautia–Morgan on 531pi’s Pacific Mornings show.

The Labour Party is still to decide whether it supports the bill but Tuiono says he’s getting positive feelings from them.

“That's the vibes I get, but that's all I get as well, it really is a call for them.

“I want them (Labour) to support my bill, don't get me wrong, but it's important for me to let them have their process and sometimes this can take some time, but I'm hoping that they will support it … at least support through (to) the first reading.”


The Palmerston North-based MP says it’s important to get past the first reading because the community could then have their say during the select committee stage, to get into the details and find a way to “reconcile the past with where we are today”.

Tuiono says he feels like he’s getting “positive affirmations” from Te Pāti Māori as well, but he doesn’t want to pre–empt it.

“You never know until the vote comes through the house vote. People could say yes, I absolutely support it and you do the first reading, then they disappear.”

But even if Tuiono does rally the support of all the Opposition parties, it’s still eight votes short of the target 63 that’s needed.

Tuiono will have to win votes from National (49 seats) or one of the coalition government partners ACT (11) or NZ First (8) to get past the first reading.

“I have sent a letter to the Prime Minister of New Zealand, and a letter of New Zealand First as well, asking him to support the bill."

Tuiono says he sent the PM a letter after watching what he said on Pacific Mornings in February.

Luxon said at the time he was worried about mass migration but Tuiono wanted to reassure the Prime Minister that would not occur with his bill.

Tuiono says there are three ways to become a New Zealand citizen, by birth, descent and by grant.

He says the bill would allow citizenship by grant, so it won’t lead to mass migration by descent.

“At the heart of this bill is actually fairness,” Tuiono says.

“You have a group of people who are New Zealand citizens who then had that citizenship recognised by the Privy Council in 1982 and then the government coming and taking away that citizenship.”

The Restoring Citizenship Removed By Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act 1982 Bill harks back to a 1982 Privy Council ruling that all Western Samoans born between 1924 and 1948 were British subjects. And that in 1949 they and their descendants had become New Zealand citizens.

The New Zealand government at the time unilaterally removed that citizenship entitlement.

However, some community leaders are advocating rather than citizenship, compensation by way of receiving a full pension and visa–free travel would be an appropriate form of redress.

Tuiono says there are a number of rules around superannuation and it may not apply to some of the people this bill is aimed at.

Some estimate if the bill becomes law, it will affect less than 4,000 Samoans still alive today.

Watch the full interview with Teanau Tuiono below: