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AUCKLAND, New Zealand (NiuFM News, May 22) - New Zealand's presence in Samoa for the funeral of head of state Malietoa Tanufamilfi Le Lua has re-opened a rather testy era in the history of the two countries.

While the Helen Clark delegation gushed over the historical ties and the Treaty of Friendship, those campaigning for New Zealand to restore citizenship to Samoans weren't so polite.

Anae Arthur Anae, from the Mau Sitiseni Movement, says they've had to take the citizenship case to the United Nations when New Zealand should've done the done the right thing by Samoa.

Anae says the decision to strip Samoans of New Zealand citizenship was clearly racist.

He says its well-documented that even Prime Minister Helen Clark opposed the 1982 move to introduce legislation to undermine a Privy Council ruling that a large group of Samoans were in New Zealand legally.

The Privy Council ruled all Samoans born between 1924 and 1948 (and their children) were entitled to be New Zealand citizens.

New Zealand at the time was trying to deport thousands, claiming they were overstayers.

Thousands have signed the Mau Sitiseni petition that's now with the United Nations Human Rights Committee but Labour MP, Vui Mark Gosche, says he not sure it'll succeed.

Vui says he's aware the issue is an important one and that it has support but says the Samoan Government and its people don't favour it and that's why New Zealand has taken the stand it has.

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