Why become an Australian citizen?
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.
Regrettably, over the decades many New Zealanders have not felt the need to pursue citizenship for a variety of reasons because they've felt it wasn't necessary. Beside, most are proud of their NZ heritage and want to remain a New Zealand citizen through and through.
From a Maori cultural perspective there has always been a strong perception and belief that taking up citizenship in Australia or any other country for that matter means renouncing or betraying 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.
Merely living and working in Australia is no longer enough, as the human cost could be much greater than what many could have anticipated.
Too many of our people 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 try to do something like get their child who is an Australia citizen a passport for example. Suddenly they realise they have been mixed into a big melting pot of Kiwis having to prove their history, ties and residency as if they are non protected. Again, this resident status is no guarantee that our lives and future are safe and secure. More so, those who were here before the 2001 law changes have a false sense of security believing they are untouchable and safe from harm, not understanding they could be excluded or marginalised at the stroke of a pen - which is exactly what happened in February 2001.
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 ensures security and safety in all facets of our lives and is of enormous benefit to our children and future generations.
Citizenship will help a great deal in ensuring Australia's laws and relationship with New Zealand are regularly monitored, evaluated and fair.
Being able to vote and have a say will also ensure our New Zealand nation will not be harmed easily 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, unequal and unfair treatment. It could also be the demise of our country's economy.
More and more evidence is appearing as the seams are beginning to tighten and break 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. It's an enormous problem and we can expect much worse situations arising as a result of these issues being continually ignored and swept under the carpet, so to speak.
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 disadvantage. The upside is we are allowed to hold dual citizenship which means we can have the best of both worlds - should we qualify.
Nga mihi nui,
Erina Anderson-Morunga on behalf of Iwi n Aus