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How Tonga Aids New Zealand

Bishop Finau, Bishop of Tonga

Bishop Finau, Bishop of Tonga

Dawn raids against Pacific Islanders
who have overstayed their entry permits were last week condemned as ‘shameful’ by the Bishop of Tonga. Bishop Finau
hit out at the raids because of the scattering effect they had on members of the
Tongan community in this country.

Bishop Finau

Bishop Finau

“I have been told that there are some-
like 8,000 Tongans at present in New
New Zealand. And I am sure that a great number of them will be overstaying
their three month visitor permits.” Bishop Finau pointed out that some of these
people were literally ‘on the run’. “They are very suspicious that people will tell on them.”

The bishop said that some of these people might have family or personal problems, and he now had the greatest difficulty making contact and assisting them.

“A great number of people in Tonga will be surprised by this sort of thing happening in New Zealand.” He said that permanent Tongan residents in this country would certainly not be happy about the raids.

The bishop said his complaint about the three month visitor permit system was New Zealand's hypocrisy. It is assumed that people coming here with visitors permits do not page 18 work, but the bishop noted that “nothing is done if they work”.

“The labour force is needed. If you close your doors, your industries will feel it quite a bit. But they don't earn very much,” said the bishop, “and this tends to make people overstay.”

Bishop Finau told Zealandia how work in New Zealand gives Tongans a chance to break out of the feudal sustem which exists in their country. “By working in this country our people are able to get a little capital, which will set them up with a little land or a little business in Tonga.”

He said that the present power structure in Tonga was the “biggest hindrance to development. When they get work in New Zealand it is a great relief to them, At home they
have no work and they have no land.”

The bishop said that he only wished people in this country realised that his people were being kept down by an “oppressive structure”.

As a solution to the present problem Bishop Finau said he would like to see six-month work permits available to Tongans or a quota system, as is operating at present for entries from Western Samoa.

The bishop stressed that the situation needed to be tackled ‘urgently’. “New Zealand is a rich country, and the people do not see this urgency.”

page 19

In a letter to Joris de Bres, April 29 1974.

Many thanks for your letter of April 8 and the paper clippings. We are most grateful for the wonderful interest CARE is showing towards our Tongan workers in New Zealand.

To answer the questions in your letter:


What is your Church's attitude to Tongan migration to New Zealand – both as regards temporary and permanent migration?


Temporary migration:

We would like to see working permits of six months or more being granted. We would like to see that our people are prepared for such migration through:


Pre-orientation course,


Personnel available in New Zealand to help our people as they actually experience life in New Zealand.


Post-orientation course in Tonga when they return.

Work and accommodation should be arranged prior to entry to New Zealand.


Permanent migration:

The right to migration should be given to people who genuinely endeavour to develop themselves in accordance with a life befitting their human dignity but cannot do so because a) lack of material resources, e.g. lack of land, lack of work opportunities, b) unjust and oppressive power structures that militate against their human dignity.


What link do you feel should exist between the New Zealand's migrant labour policy and the policy of Pacific development aid?


It should be part of the New Zealand Aid programme to sponsor and facilitate migration, both temporary and permanent, cf. answers to No. 1. above.

New Zealand could use Aid money to build hostels to accommodate migrants and these hostels should have a bicultural staff.
Population distribution in Tonga

Population distribution in Tonga

page 20

New Zealand should be more open to receive export products on a trade basis.


New Zealand could set up various industries in the Islands – research always preceding – but with the conditions that local people would eventually take over the management and ownership. This would not then be an “extremen capitalistic” business venture but humanistic and Christian, to assist poor people.


What facilities are needed both in Tonga and New Zealand, to facilitate migration to New Zealand?


The question is somewhat covered by the foregoing answers to which I add: Reorien-
the Tongan Educational system, so that more emphasis is on technical and agricultural subjects. Education would then be more relevant to the need of our people now, and especially so, if Tonga moves into more intensive agriculture.


By so orienting education the people would be better equipped not only for life in Tonga Tonga, but also for migrant life in New Zealand.


New Zealand Aid could be directed to educational pursuits of this kind, rather than to academic subjects.

I am hoping to be in Auckland from May 10 to 20 and I hope to see you personally and perhaps we could talk these matters over.

In the meantime thank you again for your interest and promise of positive assistance.