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ALOFI, Niue (Niue News, June 12) – Niue has been holding talks with Tuvalu government officials to discuss new immigration proposals.

Premier Young Vivian has confirmed the talk s by a Niue delegation during the current Pacific finance ministers talks at Funafuti.

There are were about 10 Tuvaluan families on Niue but some who have lived more than five years on the island have been granted New Zealand citizenship and now live in Auckland.

Niue, [whose population has dwindled to about 1,300], is seeking ways to increase immigration from other countries. There has been talk on Niue about granting work permits to Indian and Chinese workers.

Tuvaluans migrated to Niue under a scheme instigated by former Premier Frank Lui in the early 1990’s. They were housed in Vaiea village and allocated nearby land for growing crops. They are renowned on Niue for their fishing skills.

In previous discussions with Tuvalu the question of suitable accommodation and jobs came under scrutiny.

But the Tuvalu government has several other issues it’s trying to sort out at present, among them the repatriation of its workers from Nauru. Hundreds of former phosphate workers and their families from Kiribati and Tuvalu have been on Nauru for years, unable to return home until they receive wages and expenses.

The Tuvalu Prime Minister, Maata Toafa, sais this week Kiribati and Tuvalu have asked Taiwan to consider helping fund the repatriation, which is beyond Nauru’s means. He says Nauru and the Pacific Islands Forum estimate the amount owed at NZ$5 million.

Mr Toafa says he hopes for a decision soon from Taiwan, and if it agrees the Forum Secretariat would disberse the money.

He says if Taiwan agrees, it will be because it’s good friends with Tuvalu, which has recognised Taiwan for 26 years, as well as with Kiribati and Nauru.

Niue recognises the Peoples Republic of China and follows New Zealand’s one China policy.

June 13, 2005

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