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Let Ioane Stay

Written By: - Date published: 12:18 pm, September 22nd, 2015 - 35 comments
Categories: climate change, Environment, global warming, Politics, sustainability - Tags:

Ioane kiribati climate change refugee

It is inevitable that as the ice caps melt and sea levels rise the Pacific Islands will face the prospect of their homelands disappearing and their fertile land suffering from salination.

Ioane Teitiota is possibly the first climate change refugee who will seek refuge in New Zealand.  He is being forced to return to his home in Kiribati.  I do not know the details but it appears that he may have mucked up his immigration status but he and his wife have jobs, his children are born in New Zealand, the family have integrated into the local community as can be clearly seen by the large West Auckland meeting held last night and their home is slowly dying as fruit becomes hard to get and fresh water supplies dwindle.

Carmel Sepuloni sums things up well in this Radio New Zealand interview:

Labour MP for Kelston, Carmel Sepuloni, said it was not uncommon in her electorate to have generations of overstayers from Kiribati and Tuvalu.

“Three generations of people here unlawfully, living in fear, two of those generations who’ve never known Tuvalu really…so to constantly have that cloud above them, with fear they could one day be found or made to go back is a horrible climate to be living in,” she said.

Ms Sepuloni said the government needed to step up.

“New Zealand and Australia really need to take responsibility for that…these two countries especially are facing climate change issues that are going to mean they will legitimately be the first climate change refugees, and they’re our neighbours,” she said.

Ms Sepuloni said a serious conversation about climate change refugees needed to take place throughout the Pacific.

Applications through the Courts to have Mr Teitiota declared a climate change refugee by his lawyer Michael Kidd were declined and he has been ordered to leave.  A last minute plea to associate Minister Craig Foss is Mr Teitiota’s last chance.  Given the Government’s total indifference to Pacific Island concerns at the threat climate change poses I am not surprised.

There is an Action Station petition I would urge you to sign.  Even late signatures will help.

Update:  John Key has pretty well ruled out a reprieve by calling Mr Teitiota an overstayer.  And his comments about the threats posed by climate change are insulting in their simplicity.  He is quoted as saying this:

… “I don’t think that claiming he’s a refugee based on climate change, that that’s a credible argument.”

That may become a valid argument in the future, Key said.

“We can’t rule out what’s going to happen 30, 40, 50 years from now. But some of the scientists are certainly predicting quite a rise in sea levels, and if that’s the case then it will challenge those low lying states and we understand that.”

Can’t rule out? Some scientists? If that’s the case?

35 comments on “Let Ioane Stay ”

  1. Grindlebottom 1

    The problem is he doesn’t meet the criteria defining what a refugee is and his lawyer should know that. Hopefully the associate minister will grant him residence as a special case because of his wife and nz born kids and the other factors like having integrated into society here.

  2. Clemgeopin 2

    “He is being forced to return to his home in Kiribati. It appears that he may have mucked up his immigration status but he and his wife have jobs, his children are born in New Zealand, the family have integrated into the local community as can be clearly seen by the large West Auckland meeting held last night and their home is slowly dying as fruit becomes hard to get and fresh water supplies dwindle”

    I have just signed the petition.

    It is unfair and UNJUST to kick them out after so many years. This is not natural justice. The time to have dealt with this was many, many years ago, not now. Simply shows the inefficiency of the government.

    Let them be here now.

  3. Lanthanide 3

    “Some scientists?”

    You can always find a another scientist that’ll say what you want.

  4. maui 4

    The president of Kiribati has bought a large swathe of land in Fiji that he says could house and support the entire population of Kiribati if required. I guess governments take that kind of action because climate change isn’t happening and they’re not feeling the effects, right?

    We’ve welcomed pacific immigrants and profited from their contributions. Pretty callous taking the opposite approach in this case especially since his family are contributing to our society also.

    • Anno1701 4.1

      Tuvalu & Kiribati are both looking at purchasing land here in NZ for the same purpose

      • maui 4.1.1

        Oh ok, I didn’t know that. NZ and Australia should really be gifting land to them. But then again we only give the shitty land back that we haven’t found a use for yet in treaty settlements so that’s probably wishful thinking.

  5. David Scott 5

    Priorities. Let’s flood NZ with immigrants and refugees who don’t understand Pacific Island culture (and cry “Racist” every time they don’t get their own way) and turn away people who are already here, integrated, and working.

  6. Ovid 6

    The 1951 Refugee Convention outlines that refugees are people who:

    owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.

    That very clearly does not include victims of natural disaster or climate change. Now maybe the world should revisit that, but here and now he doesn’t meet the legal definition of a refugee.

  7. Steve Wrathall 7

    Except there is no evidence that Pacific Islands are disappearing. Global sea level rise continues to refuse to accelerate beyond the ~3 mm/ year that would see 30 cm of rise per century. And yet we are constantly bombarded with predictions of metres of rise per century.

    • Anno1701 7.1

      The effects are about more that sea-level rise Steve

      Got to Kiribati or Tuvalu and then tell me there not being killed slowly…

      • Steve Wrathall 7.1.1

        They’re not being killed slowly. They’re not being killed at all. They have one of the fastest population growth rates outside the Dar Al Islam

        • weka

          Wiki says that storms and erosion are part of the problem. Do you think that is not happening either?

          • Anno1701

            dont forget the droughts and other effects on agriculture that mean 60% of kids under 5 in Tuvalu are anemic because they cant get enough nutrition in their diet

          • Steve Wrathall

            Storms and surges are part of the ongoing process that is coral atolls. Your point being?
            And poor nutrition has many causes. In the Pacific it often related to choosing to eat imported fatty foods rather than catching your own dinner as your ancestors did. Nothing to do with the 3 mm/ years of global sea level rise

            • weka

              You might have heard that storms are getting worse with climate change.

              You can’t choose to eat your way out of a drought. Blaming people for poor choices is a pretty shit argument against climate change, but I guess deniers are running out of reasons now.

    • Grindlebum 7.2

      Interesting article. Heard on Newstalk ZB about an hour ago that research has shown the islands’ land area is expanding due to constant new sand formation.

      Checking it out, the research certainly says this for both Kiribati and Tuvalu, but the researchers also say … people living on the islands still face serious challenges from climate change, particularly if the pace of sea level rises were to overtake that of sediment build-up.

      The highest point on Tuvalu is 4 metres above sea level but and the highest point on Kiribati is 2 metres. What I sometimes wonder is how anyone on these islands could survive a large Pacific tsunami, something as big as the 2004 Boxing Day Indonesian one or the 11 March 2011 Japan one.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 7.3

      Who are being bombarded? By what?

      Oh, sure, dishonest trash like Steve “my middle name is low-life” Wrathall will continue to try and tell lies, and Climatology says different.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.4

      How about we use an article that’s actually up to date:

      If you’re still thinking about buying that beach house, think again. A new study suggests that sea levels aren’t just rising; they’re gaining ground faster than ever. That’s contrary to earlier work that suggested rising seas had slowed in recent years.

      My bold.

  8. les 8

    pity Marion Thompson wasn’t still head of immigration,she had no trouble getting rellies from Kiribati in….and no trouble forging references to get the job.

  9. Sirenia 9

    Humans have the capacity for compassion. Pity our leaders act less than human in forgetting their own origins and denying others what they had. We are all citizens of the world and should be helping each other out, especially when there are children involved.

  10. b waghorn 10

    The government would be very weary of setting a legal precedence around climate change being used in a case like this wouldn’t they. ?

  11. Gabby 11

    Surely we can give it a hundred years and then reassess Mr Teitiota’s case if sea levels continue to rise. That will give him an additional century to move his belongings here in an orderly way.

  12. BM 12

    Next flight out.

  13. Clemgeopin 13

    “The wife is a teacher here in New Zealand and the children (born in New Zealand) are learning here in New Zealand.” Having not dealt with them when their visa expired years ago, it is a travesty to deport them now. Because of that, I think the government should reconsider the case and let them stay for humanitarian reasons.
    Not sure what work the man does, but I suspect he is employed too, like his wife.

    Teitoa will be deported on Wednesday afternoon as scheduled and it’s understood his family will join him on the flight, or sometime shortly after.

    Key said the man’s family situation and a plea to be allowed to stay on humanitarian grounds was a different issue to that of climate change.

    Key said : “I, as an electorate MP sometimes do advocate for people, who have come to my electorate office for exactly those reasons; they’re well ensconced in New Zealand, they’re probably really good New Zealanders”

    So this shows that Key applies different standards to different people. There is no suggestion anywhere that this family is not, in Key’s words above, “well ensconced in New Zealand” nor that, they’re not “probably really good New Zealanders”.

    A very poor decision by this government.

    • Draco T Bastard 13.1

      The most likely difference will be that the ones that turn up in Key’s electorate office are probably rich (well ensconced) and white (really good New Zealanders).

    • les 13.2

      I think the hubby delivers pamphlets.He should apply in the proper way again if his case has merit.Queue jumping by overstaying handicaps other claimants.

      • Clemgeopin 13.2.1

        Then how can you justify this statement from Key?
        ‘Key said : “I, as an electorate MP sometimes do advocate for people, who have come to my electorate office for exactly those reasons; they’re well ensconced in New Zealand, they’re probably really good New Zealanders”

        Does it depend on how wealthy the person is?

  14. Ad 14

    Terrible idea.

    Far better to work with Kiribati and other soon-extinct states to buy land on Fiji and Queensland, as they are already doing. The whole population needs to be shifted, rather than looking at it as individual cases.

    Put NZAid to help fund whole Island shifts.

  15. sirpat 15

    let him stay…….not for his sake but for the kids………they are the innocent ones here and were born here…..however it should be said that he did know of his illegal status and appears not to have done bugger all to fix it……I understand why some kiwi’s cry foul….. when caught they become a “special” case. with the influx of refugees and various imports I feel that some kiwis worry about how that changes the country dynamic in all sorts of ways……..however when island folks have work permits to work in agriculture here because no unemployed kiwi will step up makes one wonder wether we should bring in more and ship the shirkers out!!

    • One Anonymous Bloke 15.1

      Ah yes, the complete lie about people who don’t want to work was debunked entirely by the unemployment rate in 2007.

      You ignored it (did you hide behind your security blankie?) in favour of your hateful opinions. That’s why I call you trash.

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