23 Apr 2014

Maori citizenship figures questioned

6:51 pm on 23 April 2014

A Sydney-based Maori academic, Brent Reihana, says he doesn't agree with a recent survey showing fewer Maori in Australia are gaining citizenship.

Paul Hamer of Victoria University canvassed 540 New Zealand-born Maori who moved to Australia after the 2001 laws were introduced that stopped them from getting social security.

Mr Hamer says the road to gaining citizenship is expensive and uncertain, saying only 9 of the 51 people who applied for the status got it.

Most of them gained citizenship through living there previously, or arriving during a grace-period around the law change, but he says only two people obtained it through a successful permanent visa application.

But Mr Reihana says a survey like that needs to be based on official data from each state and territory.

He says the anecdotal evidence he's seen says Maori are gaining citizenship and he doesn't believe the recent figures come from a valid scientific source.

The Ngapuhi man says to be accurate it needs to include the whole Maori population living in Australia, and be conducted over a set period of time.