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‘We have earned our NZ citizenship’

Wednesday 14 December 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion

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‘We have earned our NZ citizenship’

Dear Editor, Why do we live in a situation where our closest constitutional partner says no, it will cost you our deepest part of connection, and a no when balanced against the threat of losing our New Zealand citizenship (when bidding for UN membership).

My question is, is this a demonstration of the values committed by New Zealand and that partnership, the equity of two Vakas being lashed together, or is it yet again a colonial power, exerting its agency and control where and when it feels to.

International recognition of the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands as sovereign entities accelerated following the UN Security Council termination of the US-administered UN trusteeship over them in December 1990. However, both states had already established substantial international personalities prior to the Security Council action. The governments of the United States and both nations declared the trusteeship “non-applicable” to both in 1986, concurrently with the entry into effect of the Compact of Free Association.

Both states, federated similarly in free association with the United States, though not citizens by right of the United States can vote, can attend school, can live in the US, can collect social security and can transit to full citizens a lot quicker and with less problem then those vying on a green card. They are for all intents and purposes citizens of the United States, federated in free association and members of the United Nations in their own right. A United States that has now recognised our sovereignty and statehood, and a door that now opens wider to our admission to the global table that is the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund.

The two nations subsequently established diplomatic ties with such diverse countries as Israel, the People’s Republic of China, Australia, and numerous South Pacific neighbours, and joined a variety of international organisations, all prior to the termination. The declarations of non-applicability were a diplomatic success, not a failure. The two entities gained loci of sovereignty when their constitutions went into effect in 1979. The newly established constitutional governments exercised their sovereignty in concluding the compact with the United States.
By delegating the power of defense to the United States under the compact, the two nations became modern-day “protected states”,  that is, states that have voluntarily ceded part of their sovereign powers to another nation. As protected states, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands can be considered not only sovereign but independent, despite the seeming limitations of the compact and its subsidiary agreements.

President Woodrow Wilson, introducing the concept of self-determination to the League of Nations in 1919, describing it as “the right of every people to choose the sovereign under which they live, to be free of alien masters, and not to be handed about from sovereign to sovereign as if they were property”. New Zealand’s current position on this, reminds us that we were once property of New Zealand, and remain property if we decide to join the global community, function in the fullness of our sovereignty and statehood and because of this stance recognise that actually New Zealand sees us as neither free or sovereign but still an extension of its empire that it can exert influence over when it so chooses.

The word ‘State’ is mentioned thirty-four times in the United Nations (UN) Charter. To be admitted to the UN, an applicant must be a ‘State’. To bring a question concerning international peace and security, or any other dispute, before the UN, it is necessary to be a ‘State’. To be entitled to participate without vote in the UN Security Council’s consideration of any dispute, a party to the dispute must be a ‘State’. To become a party to the Statute of the International Court of Justice, an applicant must be a ‘State’. There is thus much opportunity for disagreement about and development of the notion of statehood in UN organs.

The irony is that our path to Statehood, was predicated by New Zealand’s signing the UN Declaration 1514 – The Declaration on the granting of Independence to colonial countries and peoples in 1960, where New Zealand agreed with the UN and relinquished its colonies putting us on a path to self-governance, with a number of options available to us and carefully monitored by the UN. The option we chose, albeit in free association with New Zealand, should not then be the inhibitor to join the UN and be members of the organisation that set about freeing us from being a colony to statehood, and from a coloniser to a liberator for New Zealand.

Our suggestion is that ultimately in its mind the UN position in 1960 and more so today and agreed upon by New Zealand was that the Cook Islands would be sovereign, a state and independent in all its fullness. The Declaration 1514, clearly states in Section 5 that this move was to transfer all powers to the peoples of those territories, without any conditions or reservations.

Section 1 that the, domination and exploitation of a peoples constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights, and is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and is an impediment to the promotion of world peace and co-operation, and finally Section 2, that all peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. These were the conditions that New Zealand signed up to and initiated with regard to our country in 1965 and in 2022 continues to ignore and resist whenever we seek to simply sit at the same table. The UN declaration was to bring to a speedy and unconditional end to colonialism in all its forms and manifestations; the simple answer is, with regard to New Zealand and the Cook Islands, in this respect they have failed to live up to the end of colonialism without conditions.

Have we earned our citizenship or haven’t we, be it 500 men for the War, labour for New Zealand’s factories and freezing works, our young women working as maids on farms in the 1950s, rugby and league players, 65 years of taxes, or simply voting blocks for often Labour governments, because if we have then why is it held to ransom when we push to simply sit at the same table as New Zealand, our closest constitution partner, and exercise our self determination, statehood and sovereignty as a country.

Te Iu Manamanatā(Name and address supplied)