27 Apr 2007

New Zealand government denies visas to group of Fiji children

9:56 am on 27 April 2007

The management of a prominent Methodist Church-run school in Fiji has called on the New Zealand government to review its visa policy.

The Fiji Times says the call follows the refusal of the New Zealand Immigration Service in Suva to issue visitors' visas to many students and a teacher from the Dudley High School for a field trip to New Zealand as part of their academic work.

Family members of those who were refused visas are in the Fiji military.

The manager of the school, the Rev William Lucas, says 40 students of Forms 5, 6 and 7 were supposed to go on the field trip but now only 17 students and some teachers will be travelling.

The Rev Lucas says when teachers raised their concern with New Zealand immigration officials, they were told to "see Helen Clark if they had a problem."

The Rev Lucas says New Zealand should look again at its policy because it seems the innocent students' only crime was that they were related to soldiers.