Tuesday, January 25, 2011

[pima.nius] Stranded Tuvaluans still hopeful of getting to New Zealand for holiday

9:45 AM |

Stranded Tuvaluans still hopeful of getting to New Zealand for holiday

Updated January 25, 2011 16:59:14

A group of more than 100 Tuvaluans hope New Zealand will quickly process their tourists visas, after being left stranded in the Fijian capital, Suva, for more than month. Many in the group of men, women and children from the island of Nukufetau have never previously travelled out of Tuvalu. They say they got stuck in Suva when New Zealand rejected their group visa, and insisted that they apply as indviduals, to visit families in New Zealand for Christmas.

The New Zealand immigration department says there are specific policy requirements for groups travelling to the country and urges all travellers to check thier visa requirements before they leave home.

Presenter: Alexandra Wake
Tuvalu Group leader, Valu Afe Lafita

LAFITA New Zealand immigration here in Fiji, they don't allow us to apply in a group. So they decline our visas, our application forms, and they told us to apply in individual visas.
WAKE: Why did you decide to apply as a group, rather than individuals, in the first place?
LAFITA: Because we are travelling in a group. That's the idea of applying in a group in the first time. Because we are travelling in a group.
WAKE: Who is in that group? Can you tell me about the people?
LAFITA: Well the people we are travelling with, we are from one side of our island in Nukufetau, our island is divided into two sides, and we are from one side.
WAKE: And I understand there is a wide range of people and ages in your group?
LAFITA: That is correct. Some are old and some are young people. Also for some of them it is their first time out of Tuvalu. They really want to meet their families and our community in New Zealand.
WAKE: I understand that you had been planning to go to New Zealand for Christmas but that you have been stuck in Suva for over a month?
LAFITA: Yes, that's correct. We arrived in Fiji on December 16th, till now, we are sitll in Fiji.
WAKE: And where are you staying? Do you have a place to stay?
LAFITA: Yes, we are staying at a hall that belongs to the Rabi Community here, so it's owned by the Rambi Community, Methodist Church, here in Suva.
WAKE: Can you stay there for very long or do you need to leave?
LAFITA: Well this place they offer us for free of charge, we will stay there until we leave fiji.
WAKE: Are you hopeful now of getting to New Zealand or do you think you will need to return to Tuvalu.
LAFITA: Becuase we have lodged our visas now to the New Zealand embassy so we are still looking forward to continuing our trip to New Zealand because we already lodged our visas within the NZ embassy.
WAKE: Were you aware before you left home that you needed to do individual visas , or why were you under the impression you could do a group visa? Did you look into it before you left?
LAFITA: When we left Tuvalu we did not know that we should, that our visa would decline because of this group visa, but when we arrive in Fiji, they just let us know that they decline us from this group visa.
WAKE: Do you have enough money to stay in Suva while this matter is sorted out?
LAFITA: Well at the moment we are still have enough, at the moment the NZ embassy, they are still workign for us so in the meantime, shortly I think we are ready to leave here.

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