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Monday, January 23, 2006

 

General Discussions: To debate an issue, you have to understand the issue

Given the constant sniping and accusations that New Zealand poach, pillage and rape the Pacific Islands for rugby players at will, New Zealander, John Cawston, provides Rugga World with a, at times, irreverent and tongue-in-cheek explanation of just how complex the relationship is between New Zealand and the various islands.

Whilst John is by no means attempting to ratify the historical population migrations of the region, it will give you an insight into just how intertwined the regional history is. The simple fact is, almost without exception, most of the players commonly mentioned were either born in NZ, grew up there or have never represented another nation.

Perhaps we need to move on from our obsession with origins and concentrate on how to contain them on the field!"

(Dont miss John's forthcoming article on the role of the frontrow!)

First, think about Britain and its Empire and now Commonwealth. Think of the relationship of the Queen and her former colonies.

That's close to the relationship of NZ to the Pacific Islands. By time, tradition, consanguinity and closer distance NZ has always had a special relationship with the Pacific Islands and PI.

So, the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau are NZ Dependencies, ie, NZ has legal responsibilities for them under various Trustee Acts. In a little hint as to past Cook Islands emigration and affinity to Maori in NZ note that the official language there is Cook Island *Maori*. Total Cook Islands resident on the Island 18,000, total number in NZ, 51,000.

Then there is Samoa, this was a Dependency of NZ from 1914 to 1962 when it was granted independence. Under the Treaty of Friendship 1962, Samoans emigrating to NZ became full fledged NZ citizens. This is no longer the case but NZ still supplies Samoa with police, civil servants,
justice and administration facilities. Total number of Samoans resident on the islands 170,000, total number in NZ, about the same.

In Fiji, NZ still supplies a goodly part of its administration and justice services under long standing arrangements. Total Fijian population 881,000, total number in NZ 25,000.

Tonga was never colonised but has important immigration, trading, defence relationships. Most Tongan leaders and royalty receive their education in NZ. Total pop on island 97,000 (1996), total in NZ, 41,000.

Now, to further complicate the story, those PI who were born in the Islands and emigrated to NZ have dual citizenship in the Islands and NZ and certain voting and land rights. So Samoans in living NZ are easily able to influence elections in Samoa as well as vote in a Samoan to the NZ Parliament to lobby for their interests in Samoa! Equally, a person of Samoan descent who has never lived in Samoa can inherit land in Samoa.

The end result of all this is that the history of NZ and the various Pacific Islands are deeply entwined in exploration, legal, administrative, migration to and fro, blood ties etc. A Taiwanese fisherman and his family left Taiwan and island hopped down to Papua New Guinea, picked up a spare wife and a male guide and he and his descendants worked their way over to the Cook Islands, got kicked out of there and headed over to Tahiti where they picked up the legendary name of Havaiki. From here, some of them went north and founded a colony on an island they called "Hawaii", but the others moved back west and down to the Kermadec Islands (another NZ Dependency) and then finally on to NZ.

Here they bred with earlier arrivals and then later with Europeans so that now through the marvels of DNA we can identify a unique Taiwanese gene in my very blonde daughters and a Papua/New Guinea/Melanesian gene in my son.

So when people try to isolate whether a Polynesian from NZ is really a New Zealander or really a Pacific Islander they will strike a certain amount of confusion. For instance, a Samoan resident in Samoa born between 1924 and 1948 is automatically a British subject and citizen, but in 1949 he became a NZ subject and citizen, and was such even whilst in Samoa, but if he was born between 1962 and 1982, he was just a Samoan, but sometimes a NZer if he overstayed his permit to reside in NZ. Of course, if a Samoan national arrived in NZ on the eve of 14th September 1982 on a one day visit for a medical operation, he became a NZ citizen as of right at midnight of that day, even though he flew home the following day.

However, even if our Samoan national didnt make it to NZ on 14/9/82, he could always pop over to Tokelau Islands (NZ Dependency) on a fishing trip and marry a girl there.. but he had better check her birth certificate because if she was born on or before 1st Jan 1949, she would just be a British subject, but at midnight on that date she changed to a NZ subject, even though she had never been to NZ and spoke not a word of English. However, if she married our Samoan as a British subject before 1946, she lost her status as a British subject and became a Samoan... so it's probably safest for our Samoan to achieve his NZ citizenship by marrying a Tokelaun girl who was clearly born after 1948.

I trust this clarifies the issue for you!!!

Putting all this to one side, you have to have an inkling of the peopling and colonisation of the Pacific in order to draw tentative conclusions and the efforts of Britain, France and the Netherlands do complicate matters as they set up Dependencies, nations, Trusteeships and the like.. and then passed some of these responsibilities over to NZ and Australia, or kept them under their own flags. All this resulted in welter of legislation that nationalised some islands, and then renationalised them to other nations who then created semi dependencies or sovereign nations and created the confusion you see today.

Only a few of the Island nations today are strictly sovereign and all rely on the goodwill of their former Trustees like Aussie and NZ for their continued viability, but this is an unspoken thing.. in fact, it has a specific name called "The Pacific Way". You can read something of it here:

http://www.pacificislands.cc/pm62004/pmdefault.php?urlarticleid=0005
http://www.jica.go.jp/english/news/2001/08-02.html

One way "The Pacific Way" works is emigration. NZ has about 231,000 people of PI extraction, this is a valuable release valve for the Islands to keep them ecologically healthy and drain off the younger populations that would have no employment opportunities and form pockets of discontented young tearaways. But in NZ these people remit part of their earnings back "home" in a scheme that benefits NZ and the home countries.

Similarly, the island of Tuvalu appears to be going under the waves, NZ is quietly removing the whole population over time against the day it becomes uninhabitable.

Unfortunately many of these young peoples will play sport and embarass us by appearing in the All Blacks.. but that's the cross we bear.....

So is NZ raping the Islands of talent?.. well yes, its taking the surplus breeding population as part of a mutually understood Pacific pact that benefits everybody, and yes, there are plenty of good rugby players, netballers and Leaguies that come here.
Comments:
Thanks, John, thats REALLY cleared up the issue for me!! ;-)

It's a lot more complicated than most people care to give credit for.

The bottom line is that many of the 'PI' stars playing in, or for, NZ (or in other countries) would most likely not have been stars without the injection of discipline and skills coaching they receive outside the Pacific Islands.
 
Slightly off the topic but equally perplexing to me is the fact that South Africans playing in the UK are NOT regarded as foreigners, therefore, in theory, a British club coach can select XV South Africans and not be breaking the 'Foreigner Rule'.

That's why Andrew Mehrtens wants his South African citizenship, if he gets it, it allows the Quins coach to select another foreigner because Mehrtens would no longer be regarded as a foreigner.
 
Thanks John - great informative article!

Ras
"South Africans playing in the UK are NOT regarded as foreigners"
It's called the Kolapak (sp?) Agreement.
You're not a foreigner, but you still need a passport and visa to enter :-)
 
It's actually the Kolpak ruling (case law) concerning countries with association agreements with the EU. All the PI's and African countries have the same non-foreigner status as South Africans. New Zealand and Australia don't.

Nice to see an article like this giving the other side. When Stephen Jones and his ilk start moaning about the Samoan and Tongan players in the AB team, you just know they are going just by surname, not country of birth or length of residence. If Greg Rawlinson gets an AB cap they won't moan about that. I regard that attitude as racist.
 
yeah very nice arti, and very interesting.  
I'm glad we finally have facts on this issue. It clears up a lot of rabble rousing we've seen not only in tyhe UK but also here at home.  
Excellent article this.

Instead of bleating, South Africa should look to its own neighbourhood, namely Africa, and see what it can do. Our government needs to lose its xenophobia (especially regarding the rest of our continent) and embrace many of the hard working people who wish to seek a new life here.

I'm not being entirely altruistic. In West Africa one tends to find folk who are big, strapping and muscular. And darned fast too. If we have a steady stream of these people here legally, then we have the building blocks for some superb rugby teams in the future.

If SARU was really forward thinking, it would be promoting rugby in countries like Ghana and Nigeria, and forging rugby ties between here and those countries.

Then we can chuckle while the likes of Stephen Jones moan at the way we are pillaging Africa.
 
Too true, Il Postino.

West Africa in particular breed BIG buggers!!

The Nigerians etc. are physically imposing. In one tribe in Africa almost all the men are 7 foot tall.
 
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