John Key. Photo Reuters
New Zealand will take 150 boat people a year who have
been approved as refugees by Australian authorities in offshore
processing, Prime Minister John Key has announced.
The figure will be part of the annual quota of 750 refugees
New Zealand takes as part of New Zealand's commitment to the
United Nations High Commission for Refugees.
"We are limiting this 150 in order to still maintain a
significant commitment to resettling refugees referred by the
UNHCR," he said.
Except for the past two years, New Zealand usually fills its
The figure was agreed during talks in Queenstown this morning
with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
New Zealand last took refugees in a similar manner in from
The Tampa - 131 for resettlement in New Zealand in 2001.
The issue of arrivals of asylum seeker by boat has plagued
the Labor Government ever since former prime minister Kevin
Rudd ditched offshore processing in Nauru and Manus Island in
2007, a policy which was introduced by John Howard's
government in 2001 and had virtually stopped boat arrivals.
ChangeMakers Refugee Forum, an organisation which works with
14 refugee groups in the Wellington region, has welcomed
discussions on the issue.
General manager Tim O'Donovan said while he believed it was
"highly unlikely" that boats carrying asylum seekers would
arrive on New Zealand shores, it was an issue in Australia
that had polarised public opinion.
"To see our Government willing to take initiative on asylum
seekers is great," he said.
"John Key is right. We need to be thinking about regional
solutions to this issue.
"But such discussions need to be underpinned by the
international commitments that New Zealand and Australia have
made and ensure that asylum seekers are not subject to
punitive measures while their claim for asylum is being
- Audrey Young