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Wednesday, 24 November, 1999, 07:55 GMT
NZ minister fired in Maori row
Jenny Shipley: "Repugnant" behaviour

New Zealand Prime Minister Jenny Shipley has fired her immigration minister just three days before Saturday's general election after discovering he granted residency to Chinese investors who backed Maori projects.

Ms Shipley described Tuariki John Delamere's behaviour as "repugant".

In New Zealand we have one law for all
Jenny Shipley, New Zealand Prime Minister
Mr Delamere, who is a Maori, represents a small indigenous party currently supporting Ms Shipley's National Party.

Ms Shipley said her move followed disclosure that Mr Delamere had authorised permanent residence for 21 Chinese investors on condition they direct their money into Maori-related projects.

"Offering permanent residence in New Zealand so long as investors invest in projects which he dictates, is unacceptable and will be repugnant to all New Zealanders," she added in a statement.

Mr Delamere: Standing by his decision
"In New Zealand we have one law for all. It is unacceptable for a minister of immigration to use his position to make decisions that favour one group of people above others.''

Mr Delamere told reporters he had taken a calculated risk and he stood by his rebellious line.

Campaign boost

The applications for permanent residency were granted on Wednesday morning against government legal advice and the advice of Mr Delamere's own officials.

The Maori flag
"Mr Delamere's own department advised him that he was effectively creating new policy. He cannot create new policy without the sanction of cabinet," Ms Shipley added.

She told Television New Zealand news she had asked him to withdraw the proposals during Wednesday and he had refused.

Documents showed Mr Delamere wrote to potential investors saying he would alter immigration policy guidelines if they pledged to invest sums of NZ$400,000 ($204,000) or more in either Maori-owned land or businesses, or rural areas including his own North Island electorate, Te Tai Rawhiti.

Media reports said his campaign had needed a boost if he was to retain his place in the 120-seat parliament.

Mr Delamere, 48, a former New Zealand athlete and long jumper, started calling himself Tuariki three years ago after agreeing to a request from tribal elders to adopt his father's Maori name.

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See also:
02 Sep 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Maori battle for equal rights
11 Aug 98 |  Asia-Pacific
Maoris may have come from China
27 Oct 98 |  The Jenkins Report
Lessons from 12,000 miles away

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