What benefit is it to become a citizen of Australia?  

We cannot emphasise enough that it is incredibly important to become a citizen in the country where you live in order to hold a voting voice, fully participate and contribute. But more importantly your rights are then protected at the highest possible level and you cannot be disadvantaged or treated unequally. By being a citizen you also secure the future of your family, children and future generations. 

It is incredibly important to become a citizen in order to hold a voting voice and to protect one's humanity. Regrettably, many have not felt the need to apply for citizenship and some even feel they are betraying their allegiance to our nation. From a Maori and cultural perspective there is a strong perception and belief that taking up citizenship in Australia or any other country for that matter means renouncing our ancestral ties, country, a sense of abandonment to our culture, heritage, history, family connections, spiritual connectedness, ownership and belonging which is incredibly sacred and important to who we are as people. 

So many of our New Zealand nationals are greatly mistaken and are completely unaware of the pitfalls of not obtaining citizenship until it's too late usually.

Many feel permanent residency or being considered a protected SCV holder is sufficient enough until they need deal with the immigration department. Suddenly they realise they have been mixed into a big melting pot of New Zealanders having to prove their history, ties and residency as if they are non protected, despite living here for many many years. More so, those of us who were here before the 2001 law changes can hold a false sense of security believing we are untouchable and safe from harm, not understanding we could be excluded or marginalised at the stroke of a pen - which is exactly what happened in February 2001. More recently Tony Abbott has introduced a new bill (2014) that includes ALL SCV holders, so this new law now affects people who have been here as far back as 1st September 1994. See our 'Dear Mr Abbott' letter.

We are experiencing first hand the brunt of legislations that do not take our humanity into consideration nor value the immense contributions made to the growth and development both economically and socially. Citizenship will also assist in ensuring Australia's governments and relationships with New Zealand are regularly monitored and scrutinised.

Being able to vote and have a say will also ensure our New Zealand nation will not be harmed or taken advantage of due to the nature of our small size and limited resources. In other words, allowing Australia to call all the shots leaves us extremely vulnerable and open to discrimination and unequal and unfair treatment in both Australia and New Zealand. 

More and more evidence is accruing as the faulty seams of bad policies are beginning to tighten and break open under the weight of blatant discriminatory practices, beliefs and treatment to our people including Australian and non Australian family members. Take a look around at all the charity organisations and communities to see what is going on right under our noses. We can only expect much worse situations to occur as a result of our problems being continually ignored and swept under the carpet. 

At present there is very little to no accountability from either of our governments. This could be partially due to the fact that eligible and able New Zealand citizens are not exercising their pathway and right to citizenship. We urge all New Zealanders to take up citizenship in order to create a voice that represents our group of Nationals living in Australia and for the benefit of our future generations to engage and participate without prejudice or unfair disadvantage. The upside is we are allowed to apply for Australian citizenship and keep our New Zealand citizenship also, meaning we can have dual citizenship.

Nga mihi nui,

Erina Anderson