Over the past few weeks I have been working with Erina Anderson and Iwi n Aus to help Kiwis overcome the prejudice of Australian legislation. Those efforts have culminated in my writing an Open letter to every MP in the Parliament of Australia including PM Tony Abbott.

Tena koutou katoa

I would like to address the grave situation facing NZers in Australia, created by the Family and Community Services Legislation Amendment (New Zealand Citizens) Act 2001 and the Australian Citizenship (Permanent Resident Status - New Zealand Citizens) Declaration 2001.

Those two laws meant NZers and their children moving to Australia after 26 Feb 2001 have had their access to Australian social security and other rights afforded them previously, such as residency, citizenship, the right to vote, medical treatment, severely restricted - in direct contrast to the privileges Australians get while living in NZ.

I know that many people have tried to raise this matter with your government but to no avail.

As you well know, NZ and Australia have strong historical bonds dating back to colonial times, reinforced by sporting, cultural and trade relationships, and of course by ANZAC itself, and yet that history has been brought to an abrupt end, without full consultation between governments, and without consultation with those most affected – NZers living and working in Australia. 

Most Australians are not really aware of the impact of these law changes, and I know that many are genuinely dismayed at how badly NZers are being treated under these laws.

NZers are suffering when they face difficulties at work and at home, and find that there is no help from government agencies. That suffering has over the past 10 years shown itself through mental health issues, homelessness, hunger, helplessness, isolation and abandonment, relationship breakdowns, domestic violence, poor health, stress and even suicide.

Australia has a sovereign right to determine its own pathway forward but I call on each of you as fellow Members of Parliament to recognise the right of Australians living in New Zealand, and New Zealanders living in Australia, to be able to enjoy the same measure of security and support, in both countries.

In all fairness, I ask that you propose and/or support a parliamentary inquiry into the effects of the two pieces of legislation referred to earlier on New Zealanders living in Australia, with a view to re-establishing the equity that both populations should rightfully enjoy in either country.

heoi ano ra na

Hone Harawira

Member of Parliament for Tai Tokerau Leader of the MANA MOVEMENT Aotearoa (NZ)