National | Teanau Tuiono

Tuiono: Show the West Papuans the same compassion as the Ukrainians

Green party Pasifika peoples spokesperson Teanau Tuiono is so concerned about a group of West Papua students that he has written to the government asking for help for them.

Te Ao Tapatahi last week featured a story about the West Papuan students, studying here in Aotearoa, before the Indonesia government stopped their scholarships, forcing them to return home, stripped of their dream for a better future. Three of the Green Party's list MPs have now written a letter to the Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Māhuta outlining their concerns.

“Some of the students are nearly finishing their qualifications," Tuiono said. "It makes no sense to cut that short. We are looking at a pathway to residency as well as extension of visas.”

“it would be disappointing to put all that time and effort into that study then have all of those qualifications stop, to have that training stop and not to be able to fulfil that expectation of finishing so it would be disappointing,” he said.

“I am concerned about the situation in West Papua as every other week there are reports of alarming human rights abuses in the region.”

Tuiono thinks that it's really important that the New Zealand government and the Indonesian government should collaborate to ensure these students complete their qualifications.

Tuiono met the students of West Papua and said they were concerned about how they are going to pay their rent, and what they are going to do to be able to eat. "These scholarships gave them everything that they needed to thrive and survive here,” Tuiono said.

“We have shown solidarity to people that come from conflicted areas and we have shown that to the Ukraine. Now let’s show it to the West Papuans.”