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POLYBLUE AIRLINES BABY’S FUTURE IS UNKNOWN Abandoned infant in New Zealand custody

By Lua Salei

APIA, Samoa (Newsline Samoa Newspaper, Mar. 22, 2009) - The future of the baby abandoned by a Samoan mother on a PolyBlue flight from Samoa to New Zealand is being described by reports as a ‘grey area.’

New Zealand officials involved with Child, Youth and Family welfare has reportedly said that they can "take the baby into custody if it was deemed necessary. However, decisions about its future would be "complicated."

The child was found in the toilet of a Pacific Blue flight that landed at Auckland airport from Samoa on Thursday. It has been reported that the 30-year-old mother gave birth after the plane had landed, and the baby was found in a rubbish bin. Police say the mother will face charges.

The report went on to say that the CYF would work with Immigration New Zealand to establish what was best for the child.

If the mother did not want to raise the child, CYF and Immigration would decide whether it would be put up for adoption in Samoa or would remain here. The baby would need to obtain New Zealand residency if it was to be adopted by New Zealanders.

The mother and child - thought to be a girl - are both in Middlemore Hospital. It was reported that nursing staff were encouraging the mother to breastfeed.

Samoan lawyer Olinda Woodroffe said she was concerned the woman would be "forced to make decisions she would later regret".

The story has made online headlines for Samoa, with major media agencies like the BBC carrying it around the world.

The incident is now a subject of investigation to determine how a pregnant woman managed to go through the checking process undetected.

A spokesman for the division of immigration in the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet felt that it was the responsibility of the New Zealand Ministry of Immigration.

The Assistant Chief Executive Officer, Fata Uili Kapeteni, went on to confirm that the woman, was due to start picking kiwifruit in New as a regional seasonal scheme worker.

The Acting Head of Immigration New Zealand, Lesley Haines says however its inquiries have established that its visa processing systems were correctly followed in Apia.

"Our inquiries show our procedures were followed to the letter," Ms Haines says.

In other reports, New Zealand police investigations are already underway.

"We are investigating suggestions that the baby was abandoned on board the aircraft," police communications manager Ana-Mari Gates-Bowey told The Associated Press.

"We are not 100 percent sure ... whether it was found on the aircraft or whether the mother went back" for the baby, she said.

The New Zealand Mangere MP Su'a William Sio says the secret birth shows Pacific Islanders must talk more openly about sexuality.

Mr. Sio says Pacific Island notions of shame around sexual matters are out of touch and talking about such things is not taboo, especially if it helps educate people.

He says informed discussion is needed to prevent similar events happening.

Mr. Sio says the incident is similar to one in which a Samoan woman gave birth to a baby who subsequently died in Dunedin.

He says if the baby was abandoned, it is not a culturally appropriate way to behave.

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