12 Oct 2006

Niue official confident island not being used to gain entry to New Zealand

4:20 pm on 12 October 2006

Niue's police chief and head of immigration says he is confident the island is not being used as a back door means of gaining entry to New Zealand.

Concerns have been expressed on the island and by a New Zealand MP that a small number of foreigners living there intend seeking New Zealand citizenship through Niue.

New Zealand Opposition MP, John Hayes, says their presence is part of an immigration rort.

"There have been several people there in the past, who have only been there a short time, in other words much less than the statutory three years who were given passports at the Niue government's request. And I think this is a total rort."

But Niue's police chief and its main immigration official, Ross Ardern, says even if the people got Niuean citizenship early they would still need to meet strict criteria before being granted New Zealand citizenship.

You would have to stay in Niue for another five years. You would have to spend another 1250 days on Niue during that five year period. It would have to be about 270 days per year spent in Niue and even then the Minister of Immigration in New Zealand who has the final say, so it is not cut and dried for anybody who thinks they are going to come to Niue and ultimately obtain New Zealand citizenship.

Ross Ardern.