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Thread: Citizenship

  1. #1
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    [b:6b401e07d7]
    [color=green:6b401e07d7]Migrants face crucial NZ citizenship choice [/b:6b401e07d7][/color:6b401e07d7]
    Monday June 12, 2006
    By Angela Gregory

    Prime Minister Helen Clark encourages migrants to become New Zealand citizens, but has stressed the importance of personal choice. Helen Clark said through a spokesperson last week that she thought it was great when migrants made the commitment to New Zealand by gaining citizenship, but the decision had to remain their own. She said some countries of origin stripped their people of citizenship when they became citizens of another country, so such a decision could be a major choice.

    Helen Clark made the comments in response to suggestions by the Department of Internal Affairs that it could be timely to promote the uptake of citizenship by migrants, and develop awareness of citizenship in the community. In a briefing note to Internal Affairs Minister Rick Barker, the department noted that Helen Clark had last year said social solidarity was critical to the country's success. The department said the Prime Minister's emphasis on nation building had parallels in Australia and Canada, which actively encouraged migrants to take up citizenship.

    The government departments of those countries had promotion of citizenship as a performance goal. The department briefing note suggested a simple first step could be to organise a publicity campaign about citizenship and citizenship ceremonies. Mr Barker said there might not be any point promoting citizenship as the numbers applying had climbed to record levels.

    While citizenship was important to national identity, it was not the singular defining characteristic of that. He believed New Zealanders were patriotic in a low-key way. "Because we don't wave a flag at the front of our house, because we don't sing the national anthem at the drop of a hat, does not mean we are not patriotic. New Zealand has never felt a need to be a loud voice. We have ... shown through our actions who we are rather than tell everyone who we are."

    The department yesterday released figures to the Herald which showed the numbers applying had increased from 20,426 in the 2001/02 financial year to 33,573 in the 2004/05 year. To ensure a speedier application the department had recently recruited 22 additional staff and taken other steps to reduce the waiting time for processing citizenship applications.

    A research report, "New Zealand Citizenship in Context", produced by the department this year found that citizenship was not considered important as a sign of commitment to New Zealand, unlike Australia, Canada and the United States, which placed a high value on it. The report said it needed to be considered whether citizenship should be promoted as valuable in itself, and the logical final step in the process of settling permanently in New Zealand.

    Citizenship might have a value as a long-term outcome for migrants even if it was not a good indicator of settlement, the report said. Reasons for migrants becoming citizens were often unrelated to how well they settled. For instance, citizenship could be used as a way to migrate on to Australia or be motivated by fears that the benefits attached to permanent residence could change.

    Migrants choosing to become citizens say they are mainly wanting security for themselves or their families. Ann Brown, who became a citizen on Thursday, said she and her Anglo-Indian husband felt it was important for the future of their two children, as well as a sense of belonging. "If you are living in a country you need to be part of it."

    Rommel Pereira, from India, said his family would apply for citizenship to give his children the same opportunities as other New Zealanders. Others said a New Zealand passport was useful for travelling and removed the hassle of leaving the country for a few years and then trying to get back in.

    An Irishman, who did not want to be named, said he knew of people who mainly wanted to use New Zealand citizenship to get into Australia. Raja Guru, from India, said for him it was simply an important way of identifying with New Zealand, the country in which he now chose to live. South African Darren Turner said it was about completing the process of relocation.

    National Party leader Don Brash said a greater emphasis on citizenship could be a good way of helping to foster a greater sense of national pride. That was important because citizenship bestowed a greater awareness of rights and responsibilities as New Zealanders, he said.

    [b:6b401e07d7]Citizens' rights[/b:6b401e07d7]

    New Zealand citizens and permanent residents have virtually the same rights. But only citizens can:

    * Freely enter the country without a permit

    * Avoid deportation

    * Get a New Zealand passport with visa-free access to about 50 countries

    * Seek consular assistance while travelling overseas

    * Stand for local and central government
    Mother Bear

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  2. #2
    Glenda's Avatar
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    Default Citizenship

    I'm more than happy to take the citizenship pledge. It is a shame it is now five years before you can become a citizen. :icon_sad:

    Our passports run out in three years time ... just a thought, does anyone know whether they will have to be sent back and renewed in the UK, then sent back to Wellington to have the visa replaced? :icon_confused:

    :icon_biggrin:
    Glenda
    In NZ since June 2005
    Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness - Chinese proverb

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    I fully intend to take the pledge when the time comes, though I will probably retain my US citizenship as well for travel purposes. Besides, trying to give up US citizenship can be a rather difficult process I've heard.
    EOI Submitted: July 20, 2006
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  4. #4
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    Default Citizenship

    [quote:b828f977cd="Glenda"] Our passports run out in three years time ... just a thought, does anyone know whether they will have to be sent back and renewed in the UK, then sent back to Wellington to have the visa replaced? :icon_confused: [/quote:b828f977cd]

    I can't speak for NZ, but when our passports run out they are renewed at the British Embassy in whatever country we happen to be in at the time (at great cost, of course :icon_rolleyes: ). Then we have to use the old passports in tandem with the new ones until the current visas runs out and a new one is installed in the new passports. Bit of a pain really.
    Mother Bear

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