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VIDEO: Kiribati ‘climate change refugee’ loses plea to stay in NZ


Niklas Pedersen reports for Te Waha Nui on the petition meeting. Video: TWN

Pacific Scoop:

Report – By Ida Brock and Niklas Pedersen of Te Waha Nui

Kiribati’s “climate change refugee” Ioane Teitiota and his family have lost their campaign to stay in New Zealand.

Associate Immigration Minister Craig Foss has declined to intervene in the case in spite of a petition in his support, reports TV3.

Te Waha Nui’s Ida Brock and Niklas Pedersen report that members of the Tuvalu and Kiribati communities in Auckland gathered on Monday to petition the New Zealand government about the fate of the family.

Teitioita, his wife, and their three children face deportation because the court will not accept Teitiota’s claim that they are climate change refugees.

The two Pacific communities gathered to sign a petition, which Kiribati community leader Reverend Iosefa Suamalie intended to present to Prime Minister John Key in Wellington yesterday.

The message from the crowd on Monday was clear. The family should stay: firstly because of rising sea levels that threaten the population of Kiribati, but also because Teitiota’s three children are all born and raised in New Zealand.

They have never set foot in Kiribati and the communities fear for their future.

The family’s lawyer, Michael Kidd, shares this fear.

“It’s utterly hypocritical of the government to allow 850 Syrian refugees to come to New Zealand, and not let people from the Pacific stay. And in this particular case, Mr Teitiota has three children. If there was a king tide in Kiribati, the littlest one could die,” Kidd said at the meeting.

The Teitiota family has fought to be recognised as climate change refugees since 2011, but on Monday the Supreme Court made the final ruling. The decision found that Teitiota and his family would have to return to their native country today.

The decision has met resistance, not only from Pacific people, but also from Labour MP Phil Twyford.

“As Ioane’s local Member of Parliament, I have asked the Associate Minister of Immigration, Craig Foss, to use the powers that he has under the law of the land to intervene. He has the power right up until the moment the plane leaves the runway,” said Twyford.

Source: Pacific Media Watch 9436

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