Norfolk Islanders appeal to NZ over Aussie 'takeover'
Two Norfolk Island leaders have touched down in New Zealand to drum up more support against a takeover by the Australian government.
The island's autonomy was removed last year, and from the beginning of July will become a regional council under New South Wales.
It's a small island with a big fight on its hands, and today two of the island's leaders touched down in Auckland to bump up support.
"We'll be talking to a range of political areas, and some areas to do with legal process," former chief minister Andre Nobbs said.
Not only is New Zealand Norfolk Island's closest neighbour, but one in five of its 1600 residents are Kiwis.
"Many New Zealanders have made Norfolk Island their home for two or three generations, and for them -- if they still in their family have New Zealand citizenship rather than Australian citizenship -- they are no longer able to call Norfolk Island their home, they have to apply for a visa," Mr Nobbs said.
The island's residents say they're being bullied by the Australian government, which swooped in to take over after a financial bailout.
They say jobs will be lost to Australian civil servants, and land rates introduced.
"[It's] very stressful. People are depressed. We've talked to the doctors and counsellors and there's a big increase since this all began," Norfolk Island Council of Elders' Albert Buffett said.
Residents have been protesting at their old parliament grounds since April, and say they're in it for the long haul.
And despite having to operate under New South Wales, even the majority of the island's newly elected council wants the takeover stopped.
"It does send a strong message that this is not acceptable to the people of Norfolk Island," Mr Nobbs said.
Norfolk Island is still waiting on the outcome of a petition, which it presented to the United Nations in April, with its residents hoping that will mean an end to the takeover.