The New Zealand Government has already indicated that we will lose our New Zealand citizenship status if we do so.
Let’s be clear: A call for independence is seen as a call for a divorce with all its ugly consequences.
Talk of dual citizenship is nonsense because we simply would not be Kiwis anymore ( if they follow that path). It is stating the obvious and our politicians must take that response very seriously.
The major risk to the iti tangata is that we would instantly and irrevocably lose our New Zealand citizenship and all the privileges that go with it.
The experiences of people from other Pacific states that chose independence is what we will experience if we go down that path.
New Zealand has quotas on immigration. If persons are found to have overstayed their visas, they are deported. Those of a certain age will remember the news of dawn raids by police and immigration officials in New Zealand to catch overstayers from the Pacific, in an effort to deport them. Do we want to risk being subject to that kind of treatment?
Welfare benefits restrictions?
As citizens we are eligible for assistance if we relocate to New Zealand.
However, if we allow our politicians to go down their path to ruin and we become relegated to non-citizens, we can kiss goodbye any eligibility for welfare assistance.
Would senior citizens still be eligible to receive the New Zealand pension? Who knows? Do they want to risk it?
Be aware that other countries don’t allow it – for example, Australia cancels age pensions if the recipient is out of the country for more than six weeks.
As citizens, young families who relocate to New Zealand for better work opportunities, are eligible for benefits to tide them over until those opportunities do not eventuate. Those privileges would be unavailable to non-citizens. That is assuming that they are even allowed to enter the country under the restrictive Pacific Islands immigration quota system.
Right now specialists travel to Cook Islands and persons with serious medical issues may be referred to New Zealand for treatment in the medical and subsidised public hospital system there.
Would we still be eligible for that privilege? Highly unlikely, or not without a hefty hospital bill to pay.
Freedom of travel?
Right now we can book a flight to New Zealand any time and without the need for a visa (New Zealand is our second homeland in an extended whanau way).
However, as non-citizens that privilege would be lost. Instead we can expect to be under greater scrutiny by Immigration officials to decide if we are holiday makers or illegal immigrants.
The people of the Cook Islands pride ourselves on their special relationship with New Zealand and the safe haven that it provides.
We do not back this folly that will trade all our long-held privileges for an uncertain future as an independent state of some 14,000 people. It’s an insane proposition.
Ironically, the reason given is that we will then be eligible for handouts!
(Name and address supplied)