NZ POLICE INVESTIGATE CITIZENSHIP SCAM AFFECTING PACIFIC ISLANDERS

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (October 15, 1999 – Radio Australia)---New Zealand police are investigating a citizenship scam, which claims to give Asian and Pacific overstayers immunity from deportation.

Radio Australia Pacific correspondent Kevin McQuillan reports that hundreds of applicants have been offered Maori citizenship for about a thousand dollars each.

"For a thousand dollars, overstayers from Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, Kiribati, Tuvalu, China and Malaysia have been promised Maori citizenship, and what lawyers say is a meaningless certificate.

"In return, they must swear allegiance to a Maori sovereign nation.

"Despite warnings from police and community leaders, the scheme continues to operate.

"Organizer Dan Davis, from what he calls the Confederation of Chiefs of the United Tribes of Aotearoa, has refused to talk to the media.

"But Immigration Minister Tuakriki Delamere says it's despicable that someone could prey on the desperate in the name of Maoridom and he's asked police to investigate. He says the bogus certificates will not stop overstayers from being deported," McQuillan reported.

Delamere said, "I find it unconscionable that someone could go out there and prey on the desperate and prey on the emotions of the desperate, and sell these bogus citizenship forms on the premise these people will be able to stay in New Zealand. The fact is that if they are here illegally and have been served with removal orders, they will be removed. And it doesn't matter how much money they've given to this outfit and who's involved, it doesn't change their status."

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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