Green Party grateful for surprise support from ACT, NZ First in first reading of Bill removing anti-Pasifika law

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson says she's grateful for ACT and NZ First's support after a Bill to strike down a Muldoon-era anti-Pasifika law passed its first reading.  

The Bill passed its first reading in the House on Wednesday afternoon after it received unexpected support from ACT and New Zealand First. National was the sole party to oppose the Bill which passed 74 to 49.   

In 1982 Western Samoans had their right to New Zealand citizenship removed by then Prime Minister Robert Muldoon's government.   

The Bill, which was put forward by Green Party MP Teanau Tuiono, would restore the pathway to citizenship for people from Western Samoa who were born between 1924 and 1949.  

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson told AM on Thursday she's stoked the Bill has passed the first hurdle.  

"We really welcome it [the unexpected support from ACT and NZ First] because they too can see that it is fairness at the heart of this Bill," Davidson told AM.  

"It was amazing to have the Samoan community up in the gallery last night. You could see with all their hearts and all their kaha (strength) they were so pumped when they realised we had actually got this over the first reading.  

"We are pretty stoked, we are grateful for ACT and New Zealand First and we want to work with National, they're the last party left, to help bring them over the line as well."  

Davidson said the Bill is about fighting a wrong the Samoan community has been facing for decades.  

"They had citizenship... and then it was cruelly taken from them so for all of those decades there has been a wrong so last night... this is a massive vindication for them for the wrong they have been living with and we're so close to being able to put that wrong right."  

Davidson said the Bill was only possible because of the hard work of the Samoan community and the late Efeso Collins.   

Newshub political editor Jenna Lynch told AM the two minor coalition parties' decision to back the Bill is "hugely significant".   

"ACT and New Zealand First decided to support the Bill. ACT argued it was all about fairness and equality and it would like to hear the submissions from the select committees so it will support it through to that stage.  

"New Zealand First mentioned their commitment to the Pacific community and mentioned Winston Peters' Pacific reset in the Foreign Affairs space and also wanted to hear submissions from that select committee process." 

Lynch said the support leaves National as the sole party opposing the bill.   

"They are really out on their own. Their argument was that it shouldn't really be done through a Members' Bill and that it's something a government should really take control of. No government has and they're worried about the precedent that might be set for it."  

Lynch said it will be interesting to see whether National changes its mind throughout the process.