Tuvalu illegal overstayers in New Zealand has been a long-standing issue and past governments have tried to find solutions to the issue but none had been successful. The current government of Hon. Enele Sosene Sopoaga is making another attempt to look into the issue and hopefully a solution can be found.

In his recent visit to New Zealand and in a press conference on Thursday, 22 February, he said that government is now working together with the new New Zealand Government in an effort to solve the issue. Hon Sopoaga said about 500 Tuvaluans are classed as illegal overstayers in New Zealand and they are living in hiding moving from place to place. Their children are not going to school and they don’t have bank accounts and thus do not go to the banks. They are really in desperate situations and they  need immediate help.

In his discussion with the new Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Artern, Hon Sopoaga requested her if her government could be sympathetic with Tuvalu overstayers who are living in fear in case they are caught and get deported instantly. Some of them have lived in New Zealand long enough to be qualified for permanent residency status. Some of their children have married there and have also given birth to children. He Humbly requested Jacinda to kindly consider offering permanent residence for them.

Hon Sopoaga confirmed that his government and the government of New Zealand will work together on this issue. First of all, they agreed to have all these overstayers submit all the required immigration papers to the proper NZ authority and they will have to look at it and make a decision. So, Hon Sopoaga is appealing to Tuvaluan illegal overstayers in New Zealand to comply with this requirement. Hon. Enele said that his government is fully committed to having this issue discussed and solved as quickly as possible and he wishes that New Zealand grant permanent residency status for them.

Rev Dr. Kitiona Tausi



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