NEW ZEALAND RESIDENCY PROGRAM FOR KIRIBATI, TONGA AND TUVALU ANNOUNCED

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AUCKLAND, New Zealand (December 21, 2001 – Radio Australia)---The New Zealand government has announced a limited residency access program for Pacific Islanders from Kiribati, Tonga and Tuvalu.

The program will allow up to 250 people from Tonga, 75 from Tuvalu and 50 from Kiribati to apply for New Zealand residence each year.

The government said the program provides an opportunity for people from the three countries to migrate permanently to New Zealand, provided they meet character, health and age requirements, have basic English language skills and a job offer.

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

GOVERNMENT OF NEW ZEALAND Wellington New Zealand

PRESS RELEASE December 20, 2001

Government ministers today announced a limited access program for residents from Tonga and the small Pacific atolls of Tuvalu and Kiribati.

Ministers Phil Goff, Lianne Dalziel and Mark Gosche announced details of the Pacific Access Category, which will allow up to 250 people from Tonga, 75 from Tuvalu and 50 from Kiribati to apply for New Zealand residence each year.

The ministers said the access program provides an opportunity for people from these countries to migrate permanently to New Zealand, but applicants must meet character, health and age requirements, have basic English language skills as well as a job offer.

The conditions of the Pacific Access Category are based on the existing Samoan quota, which remains unchanged. The new category will replace the existing work schemes with Tuvalu and Kiribati, and the 375 places will be counted against the annual immigration program, which is set at 45,000.

"New Zealand has a special relationship with our Pacific neighbors and although limited, the scheme will assist these small nations," Phil Goff said.

"The establishment of a Pacific access program was promised before the last election and we are honoring that commitment," Lianne Dalziel said.

Pacific Island Affairs Minister Mark Gosche said the scheme was a positive step. "The Pacific nations concerned have welcomed this move and it will provide some certainty for these countries."

The Pacific Access Category details are still being finalized but will be announced around June 2002, prior to its implementation on July 1, 2002.

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