Greens co-leader Marama Davidson calls for Pacific nations to be added to visa-waiver list

The Greens are calling for the Government to allow people from Pacific countries to holiday here without having to apply for a visitor visa.

It comes after it emerged half of all visitor applications denied by immigration officials were from Pasifika.

The visa-waiver list applies to countries whose citizens don't need a visa to enter New Zealand if they're visiting for up to three months.

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson told AM Early on Thursday it's "unacceptable" Pasifika people are not on the visa-waiver list as they're the countries New Zealand should be supporting the most. 

"We're really clear they should have a visa waiver to come and see their whānau, but that systemic bias, that actually smacks of ongoing racism in our system, to be quite clear with you, it's unacceptable," Davidson told AM Early host Oriini Kaipara. 

Just last year, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern offered an apology for the dawn raids of the 1970s that targeted Pasifika. 

Despite the apology, Davidson believes "racist assumptions" have made their way into New Zealand's immigration system. 

"Those same racist assumptions seem to have actually systemised themself and dug their roots quite deep in our immigration system," she said. 

"It's that assumption that they are not bona fide visitors, they don't have incomes and those sorts of assumptions are terrible hangovers and we need to get rid of them."

Davidson said when the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano erupted earlier this year, people from the Pacific were forced to wait a long time to come to New Zealand and visit Whānau.  

"It took far too long for Pacific people to be able to come to Aotearoa. From a te ao Māori perspective, we've been really clear for a long time, we have old whakapapa connections to our Pacific nations and this is not how we should be treating them," Davidson said.

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson told 1News the Government isn't considering making any changes at the moment to the visa-waiver list. 

"For some countries, we can have visa waivers, for others we don't. We do that because we need to manage the flow of people that come into our country," Robertson said.

"We continue to work closely with our Pacific neighbours around migration issues both through things like the RSE scheme, but also the Pacific Access Quota, the Samoan Quota, and so we do have good and important relationships there."

Watch the full interview with Marama Davidson above.