Two Hundred And Fifty Tongans To Migrate To New Zealand

Two Hundred and Fifty Tongans to migrate to New Zealand

28/06/2007 12:02:51 p.m.

Pacific Access Category (PAC) has seen a noticeable increase in applications for the ballot for permanent residency in New Zealand which was drawn yesterday, June 27, 2007.

The PAC ballot began in 2002 with 250 Tongans drawn every year.

Immigration Manager for New Zealand Immigration in Tonga, Feloni Tupou(pictured left) says that comparing this year and 2006, applications have increased especially with families.

Last year there were about 2,000 applications but this year it has gone up to almost 2,700. This year is the first time for receipting the ballot here but the selection is still held in New Zealand. This year not only sees an increase in numbers but this is noticeable with family applications, said Tupou.

With the success of the program however, it does come with its setbacks as according to Tupou, each year brings with it problems and last year, employers lodged complaints as applicants did not fulfill their work contracts.

Employers make an effort to travel here to hold interviews in person but when applicants arrive, they are encouraged by families to find other jobs which is a breach of contract as they are not complying with the agreements they signed to with the employers. Nevertheless, I see an improvement every year although we were not able to meet the 250 applications but we now have but we do need them to keep to the written agreement, she said.

New Zealand Immigration is asking lucky applicants to use the opportunity wisely so as not to jeopardize future applications. After the drawing of the ballot, the numbers will be released next week.

Every year hundreds of Tongans are either travelling or migrating to overseas countries and in return they send remittances to families.

A spokesperson from the Statistics department says remittances from overseas is creating an important capital resource for local people and entrepreneurs to call upon.

Remittances from overseas now outstripping the revenues from tourism and other local exports like squash and manufactured goods. The bulk of this money is accruing to Tongan households, she said.

Meanwhile, new research shows that Pacific people in New Zealand sending remittances to their island homes could save money by using less costly methods of money transfer.

Research carried out by Waikato Universitys students in Free Enterprise has revealed that people are losing money because of the way they send funds overseas.

It shows remittances sent to the Pacific region could be worth up to 600 million NZ dollars, but as much as 60 million dollars could be saved if people use other options.

The Research has suggested that Pacific families use the ATM because costs could be as low as five percent compared with the money transfer services of 40-percent.
However, the Operations manger for Westpac Bank of Tonga Rachel Mather says while ATMs would be the cheaper way, there are risks involved.

“The only problem is that what you would be asking people to do is open an account in New Zealand in their name and then forward their ATM card to somebody else which the bank wouldnt support because you would actually be giving your Pin Number so they can access the account, said Mather.

Hundreds of thousands of Tongans are residing overseas particularly in the United States of America, New Zealand and Australia and they send millions to their families at home.