13 Mar 2008

New Zealand to do away with transit visas for Pacific travellers

7:06 pm on 13 March 2008

The New Zealand Government is to scrap a transit visas which have long been regarded by Pacific people as onerous and unfair.

Auckland airport is a key access point to many Pacific countries, in some cases almost all foreign airlinks are via New Zealand's largest city.

But the visa is to go and travellers from Pacific Islands Forum countries, except Fiji, will benefit.

The Department of Labour's Tofilau Kerupi Tavita, says the fee was initially put in place to control ayslum seekers entering the country through the Pacific, but there is now no such perceived threat.

He says there had also been complaints around the region while Air New Zealand had asked the Government to reconsider the visa requirement.

"We see it as New Zealand being responsive to its Pacific neighbours, recognising that there is quite a lot of travel within the region. So we see it as a positive move forward with New Zealand continuing to demonstrate that it is part of the region."

Tofilau Kerupi Tavita