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4 Otago L. Rev. 185 (1977-1980)
New Zealand Immigration Policies and the Law - A Perspective

handle is hein.journals/otago4 and id is 198 raw text is: NEW ZEALAND IMMIGRATION POLICIES AND THE LAW -
A PERSPECTIVE
DAVID V. WILLIAMS*:
Introductory Comments
The events of Labour weekend in 1976 highlighted the difficulties of
strictly enforcing the immigration laws and brought into focus the social-
ly and politically divisive nature of picking on minority ethnic groups
when attempting to enforce these laws. It is an important comment on
New Zealand society that there has apparently been no public rebuke, in
disciplinary or other legal proceedings, of those responsible for what
happened that weekend. The senior police officer on duty in Auckland
publicly advised persons who did not have a Kiwi accent to carry a
passport, and the Minister of Police dismissed outraged protests from
Pacific Island community leaders with the comment that in a herd of
Jersey cows the odd Friesian cows will stand out. The official inquiry
which was reluctantly agreed to by the government did find that there
was a substantial number of so-called random arrests but did not lay
any blame on senior officers or officials responsible for the operations.
It is understood that all the private actions instituted by innocent resi-
dents who were aggrieved by their detention or arrest have been settled
out of court by the Crown - with substantial settlement payments in
some cases. Thus there has been no opportunity to try to find the full
facts in the public forum of a court. Even so, it is submitted that the
Labour weekend operation clearly failed in attempting to resolve the
difficult social and political problems of immigration policies by resort-
ing to intimidation and coercion. Further, it is submitted that the nub of
the problem lay in the fact that immigration policies have been governed
almost entirely by ministerial and official discretionary powers. The
problem of large numbers of overstayers arose because, in their discre-
tion, at a time when industries were desperate for labour, immigration
officials allowed many thousands of visitors to enter New Zealand on
three-month visas, knowing full well that it was impossible for these
visitors to stay in New Zealand or to pay for their air fares unless they
stayed longer than three months and obtained full-time employment
contrary to the conditions of a visitors permit.1 The problems of dawn
raids, random checks and other attempts to round up illegal over-
stayers arose because, at a time of economic downturn, police officers
and immigration officials decided it was appropriate to mount a cam-
paign to catch lawbreakers. It is the submission of this paper that the
* B.A., LL.B.(Wellington), B.C.L.(Oxon.). Senior Lecturer in Law, University of
Auckland. Currently on special leave as Senior Lecturer in Law, University of
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; sometime Secretary and Vice-President of the Citi-
zens' Association for Racial Equality (CARE), Auckland.
1 Under the terms of the Immigration Act 1964, s.14(l), permits are only for
the purposes of business, study, training, instruction, pleasure or health. New
provisions relevant to this have been inserted by the Immigration Amendment
Act 1977, with effect from J February 1978.

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